Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
Several area students honored some of America’s finest with a special gesture in advance of Veterans Day.
Students from West Orange-Stark Middle School, Mauriceville Middle School, Little Cypress Junior High and Orangefield Junior High participated in a flag placement program on the graves of United States Veterans at Hill Memorial Gardens and Orange Forest Lawn cemeteries on Thursday afternoon.
The program was organized by Claybar Funeral Homes and Cemeteries and coordinated with the local schools in an effort to promote learning, education and civic duty.
“This is the first year we have had an organized flag placing program. Everyone was very cooperative and excited when we presented the idea to them,” said Dan Naegelin of Claybar Funeral Homes and a Veteran of the U.S. military. “The kids will get credit and they will gain a valuable life experience too.”
Naegelin said family members of the deceased are very involved at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens and at Forest Lawn and this program is just one way Claybar Funeral Homes, and area students, can honor those who have served their country.
“The families that come out here are actively involved with the cemetery, as you can tell by the amount of flowers which are always present,” Naegelin added. “This program is something that I think they would like for their loved ones who are U.S. Veterans.”
Approximately 40 students from Mauriceville Middle School and Orangefield Junior High School participated in flag placement program on Thursday at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens, which is located on State Highway 87 near Bridge City.
Abbey Brown, an eighth grade student at Mauriceville Middle School, said Thursday’s activity was important to her.
“My grandfather served in the military too, so this has a special meaning for me,” Abbey Said. “It makes me proud that we are able to come out here and do this. There are so many people here, who are from our area, that went to fight for their country and that served their country.”
Britney Patillo, a seventh-grader at Orangefield Junior High, agreed.
“Everybody who served was basically risking their lives so that we can be free,” Britney added. “It makes me feel good knowing they did that, but it makes me sad because so many have died doing it.”
Jim Seales, commander of Orange VFW Post 2775, was present at the start of Thursday’s flag placement program and was happy to see so many of the youth in Orange County who volunteered to take part in the event.
“To see these kids and to see them out here learning what it is all about is tremendous,” Seales said. “From talking with the students earlier, I am really surprised at how many have family members who are Veterans or who have family members currently serving their country.”
Seales said he participated in a similar program when he was “much younger” and hopes this is the beginning of a annual event.
“This is a great learning opportunity for these students,” he added. “They will be able to ask questions of their teaches and their parents. Plus, it makes it more personal for them and not just something they read about.”