You could feel the excitement in the air, as middle school students took their seats in the media center at Eisenhower Middle School.
Some chatted with their peers about all the fun activities they had planned with their family this holiday weekend: pool parties, hiking, and even decorating Christmas trees with their family!
Students knew they were off Monday for Veterans Day, but some didn’t know the real meaning of the holiday.
That’s why 6th Grade World History teacher Kelly Clem organized for several local veterans to visit the school and speak with students about the importance of November 11.
6th grader Luis Ortiz said many of his classmates came to Tampa Bay from overseas and often explains to them that their freedom isn’t free.
“Veterans Day is for a purpose, it’s not just a holiday,” said Ortiz. “It’s a day to celebrate all the people that have served for your county. It means that we have millions of great people that serve just for us.”
For Ortiz, the holiday is personal.
His uncle Corporal Elvis Rosado served four years in the United States Marine Corps.
Rosado was invited by his nephew to speak to his classmates about his time in the military and encouraged the group of 11- and 12-year-olds to always thank a veteran for their freedom.
He told students that the 9/11 attacks motivated him to join and fight for his county.
“When my nephew told me to speak, I was honored,” said Rosado. “I think it was a good experience for them to broaden their horizons and understand what veterans do. It would be a good experience if that’s the route they want to go in.”
Rosado told students the things they love to do like playing video games, reading and going to school were all possible because of the brave men and women who have served for our county.
At that moment, it was clear that students understood the meaning of what Veterans Day weekend is really about.
“Joining the military will be the best experience you’ll ever make,” said Rosado. “I’d also say the greatest things in life aren’t easy to obtain. The military isn’t easy, but it will probably be best thing that you’ve ever done.”