Lakeridge Elementary honors its veterans

Hundreds of students gather in celebration.

Hundreds of Lakeridge Elementary students gathered inside the school gym to honor and celebrate veterans. In different ways, students showed their support for the men and women who served their country.

Some students adorned decorative headbands and crowns with patriotic colors, while others sported shirts and clothing in red, white and blue combinations.

Little voices sang in unison “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” and “This Land Is Your Land” together while on top of the school stage sat the students’ parents and grandparents who had served in various branches of the military.

In total, 18 veterans were present and students took turns introducing them, their achievements and duties within their service.

One of the veterans on stage was Felix Maguire. Maguire was born in Ireland where he was drafted to be a pilot in the Royal Air Force. He served in the Far East, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and the Near East.

“It’s kind of unusual to have an Irishman in the British Air Force, but I got drafted,” Maguire said smiling.

Later in life, Maguire would be a part of the diplomatic NATO exchange with the American Air Force.

“I flew C-130 in Alaska on skis,” Maguire said. “So we had a big four-engine airplane and we flew right on over the ice-cap and over to Greenland.”

Maguire said he spent 44 years in Alaska and it wasn’t until recently that he moved to Mercer Island. Maguire said he also flew with the Red Arrows in the 1970s.

Another veteran was Julian Bradley introduced by his son, Cooper. Julian served in the Navy from 2001-2005.

Lakeridge Elementary Principal Heidi Christensen said one particular aspect she liked about this year’s veterans assembly is the fact that the school had made a push to incorporate a diverse panel of veterans.

“It’s kind of been a very strategic and intentional move over my last couple of years here to highlight the diversity of our population,” Christensen said.

Christensen said she also wanted to make sure female veterans and vets from other countries were honored during the school assembly, widening children’s perspectives of where and who can serve.

Christensen went on to say in preparation for Veterans Day students also are learning inside classrooms about the history of the holiday.

“I would encourage people to remember this doesn’t just happen in isolation,” Christensen said. “It’s not just a Veterans Day, half an hour assembly, but there’s a whole body of instruction and discussion going on in the classrooms.”

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