for the Caldwell-West Caldwell School District.
The program, originally funded through the grant, was such a success that the celebration did not stop after that first year, but grew into a yearly celebration, culminating in a school-wide event at the school that includes veterans from as far away as Massachusetts and as nearby as Caldwell. Currently organized by fifth-grade teachers Christina Dunne and Abby Landau, all Lincoln School students in kindergarten through fifth grade participate in the event, performing songs, reciting poems and recounting history in honor of our country and the visiting veterans.
In the first year, students invited 25 to 30 veterans from the Caldwell-West Caldwell area, and more than 20 veterans attended. However, the number of invitees and attendees has grown over the years, and this year, a record–breaking nearly 80 veterans and almost 500 students, staff and guests attended the celebration. Many of the veterans have been attending the event for all fourteen years.
“We invite the local veterans through American Legion Post 185,
but we also ask the students to invite
the special veterans in their lives,” said Dunne.
“This year, about 80 veterans honored us by attending the celebration.
Some came from as far away as Connecticut and Massachusetts.”
Students write letters and mail them to one or more veterans, inviting them to attend the school celebration. The children invite the veterans to be their honored guest at the school on U.S.A. Day.
Each year, the veterans comment on how glad that they are to receive the invitation and look forward to attending the event. First-time attendees appreciate that our schools are teaching the children about these important historical events, take pride in our history, and thanking the men and women who serve our country. This year, excited for the annual event, American Legion Post 185 donated t-shirts for the fifth-grade student to wear during the celebration.
“This was so wonderful,” said a veteran attending this year for the first time. “My wife and I can’t believe how much the children are learning
and it was so nice to sit and talk with them.
We will definitely come back next year.”
“The main purpose of the program is to instill within the students
pride in their country, respect for the men and women that are fighting
and have fought for freedom, an understanding of our country's symbols
and that freedom doesn't come easily,”
said Lincoln School principal Geher.
“We are always grateful when the weather cooperates,” said Geher.
“This is one of the most anticipated events at our school, both by the students and staff, and the veterans and families.
Lincoln School U.S.A. Day has given our school
and most importantly our students a strong tie with the veterans who served and the active personnel who still serve our country.”