Six classes of students lined up outside the main entrance last week to watch as a POW/MIA flag was raised up the school's flagpole. The flag was donated by Arlington Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1561.
Post commander Bill Morse instructed students to place their right hands over their hearts as the flag was raised. The Blackjack Squadron, a group of Arlington pilots, flew over the school twice during the ceremony. On the second pass, one of five planes flew out of formation as part of a salute to fallen pilots.
"I hope this meant something to you," More said. "It did to us."
The POW/MIA flag does mean a lot, said Wyatt Long, a student in teacher Michael Schireman's combined class. During a social studies lesson about National POW/MIA Recognition Day, Schireman's students learned the flag represents prisoners of war and those who are missing in action. The day this year fell on Sept. 16.
"Mr. Schireman told us about the flag and we felt it was a good idea to get it for our school," said Wyatt, 11.
Students in the fourth through sixth grades who are taught by Schireman wrote letters to the Granite Falls School Board requesting that a POW/MIA flag be displayed at the school. Schireman delivered the letters to the school board in October. He contacted the Arlington Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1561 and the Blackjack Squadron pilots to be part of the Dec. 6 flag raising ceremony. He also invited Everett resident Wes Schierman, a former Air Force pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam, to raise the flag.
Schierman, 76, is a distant cousin of Schireman's who has been part of the school's past activities honoring veterans. He was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for over seven years, from August 1965 to February 1973.
"It's great that folks are still interested in doing this and following it up for our servicemen now," Schierman said. "Monte Cristo Elementary has been fantastic in its organizing and support of veterans over the years."
Monte Cristo Elementary is the first school in the Granite Falls School District to display a POW/MIA flag but it may not be the last, Schireman said.
"The hope is each year we can build on that through donations for the flags," he said.
Having the flag at her school makes student Katelyn Rose, 12, feel proud.
"After the Arlington group said that there are thousands missing it makes me thankful that there are still people that volunteer to serve for our country," Katelyn said. "And now that we have the flag it makes a difference to our school and the families of our school."
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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