Kindergarteners giving their coloring pages to be sent in the packages. Photo by Marisa Sachau.
Kindergarteners giving their coloring pages to be sent in the packages. Photo by Marisa Sachau.

This article was written by BenitoLink intern Marisa Sachau

Cerra Vista Elementary School welcomed Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9242 for a flag-folding ceremony and to give donations for the I Care Packages for soldiers worldwide. The students assembled in the multipurpose room to learn about the American flag.

The June 6 meeting started with VFW member Bernie Ramirez explaining what the flag ceremony would entail. The ceremony was conducted twice—once for second and third graders and again for first graders. VFW member Maria Spandri read off the meaning of each fold as two honor guards folded the flag. 

Students were engaged as Spandri discussed the meaning of each fold. The flag is folded 13 times, a process performed with deep respect. 

Spandri said, “Do you know that at a military funeral the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of numbers 1-7-7-6?”

She closed with, “In folding, the red, white, and blue, the red and white stripes are finally wrapped in the blue as the light of day vanishes in the darkness of night.”

Following the flag ceremony, four second graders recited the poem “I am a Soldier” by Diana Hahlbohm. 

The poem reads: 

I AM A SOLDIER, My heart is in the land, I fight for life and freedom, as I walk upon the sand. I do not walk unworthy. I will not stand alone. The angels travel with me, I fight for land and home. I AM A SOLDIER. A parent and a friend. A comrade and a countryman, A warrior to the end. I do not walk unknowing, The risk upon the way. For love travels with me, Each and every day.

Kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten students then made their I Care donations. Students gave VFW members high fives as they offered coloring pages to put in the I Care Packages. The I Care Packages are sent every three months with donations from the community to soldiers stateside and internationally. Transitional Kindergarten contributed a poster they made of a heart shaped by their handprints.

Kathy Ruiz, who has taught kindergarten for 20 years, said this was a great experience for her students.

She said, “I think it was important because we talk about veterans in class, and Memorial Day, and Veterans Day. And for them to see in person just brought it to life. So I think that just helped them realize, ‘Okay, there’s someone we really are contributing to and they’re gonna help the soldiers fighting for us and taking care of us.’ So I think for them to meet them in person just really made it real for them.”

Claire Thomas, a second grader, said she enjoyed the flag ceremony. “I thought it was really cool and I had never seen an American flag that big in just one place.”


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