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South Valley Journal

Veterans Day program is music to the ears of veterans

Dec 16, 2021 10:36AM ● By Jet Burnham

Fourth graders perform a challenging rhythm stick routine. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Utah National Guard Sgt. Brody Gregory was inspired to join the military because of the pride he had for his father.

“When I was in first grade, my father walked into my class in uniform, and I knew that that's what I wanted to do,” he said. “He was my hero, I wanted to be like him.”

Students at North Star Academy in Bluffdale proudly invited veterans, some family members and some community members, to be honored at NSA’s Veterans Day Program.

NSA Principal Tana Archer said the annual program honors those “who sacrificed and took time away from their families to serve our country” and is held to “help students understand what it means to live in this fantastic country with the incredible citizens that are here.” 

Each grade level of students performed a song for the audience of parents, grandparents and veterans, ranging from traditional patriotic songs to lesser-known but moving pieces.

“Music is a way that people know how to express their feelings,” NSA music teacher Angela Peterson said. “So, I think that it's important for people to hear these songs, especially these patriotic songs. It inspires them and creates emotions.”

The younger students sang songs enthusiastically, using creative actions or props. Older students signed one song in ASL and performed silhouette scenes during another song. 

Fourth grade students performed a rhythm stick routine to a rousing “Semper Fidelis” march.

“It was really challenging because we had to memorize everything,” fourth-grader Mason Bischoff said.

Mason invited his grandpa, Don Johnson, an army veteran, to attend the performance, as his siblings have every year for the past 12 years.

“I hope he feels he’s loved because he served,” Mason said.

Johnson enjoys supporting his grandkids’ school activity and believes it is important for kids to recognize the sacrifice veterans and their families make for their country.

“They need to know that it takes a lot to put your life on the line and be willing to give,” Johnson said. Serving in the military is a family legacy for Johnson— his grandfather served in WWI and his father served in WWII.

His wife, Dale Johnson, told Mason and his sister, Kinley, a second grader, that their program means a lot to veterans. She believes it is important to honor veterans so that people don’t forget them and their sacrifices.

Veterans in the audience were invited to stand to be honored while the school choir sang the songs of the branches of the military. Each veteran received a small bouquet of poppies.

Some local veterans were invited to participate in the program. Gregory read John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields.” Representatives from the local VFW explained the symbolism of the folding of an American flag, and presented a folded flag to Beatrice Ruggeri, NSA’s art teacher who recently became an American citizen.

NSA Intervention Specialist Shana Absey said the Veterans Day program is a beloved school tradition that has been going for more than 12 years.

“We do it because it's important and it's so good for the kids to learn,” she said. “We love doing it. It's just one of the things our school does. We don't have to do it, we just choose to do it.”