Patriotic event takes shape
The Farmington community has set the standards pretty high when it comes to supporting the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Next month, the bar will be raised even higher.
A group of volunteers is planning an event to salute the community's veterans as well as the men and women who are currently serving.
Called Farmington's Patriotic Day Celebration, the event will be held a week before Veteran's Day, but its purpose is much the same - to honor and thank the men and women who have enlisted to serve in the United States Armed Forces.
The event is a collaboration of Farmington School District 192, the Farmington American Legion, Farmington Lions Club, Farmington Veterans of Foreign Wars and Warrior to Citizen. And though it culminates with one night of free food and a patriotic program, events are planned leading up to that night to teach Farmington students about patriotism.
Organizers have been meeting over the summer to plan out the events that will happen on Thursday, Nov. 4. It starts with a free pork chop dinner in the Farmington High School cafeteria. The dinner will be provided by the Lions Club, and everyone in the community is welcome to attend.
All of the nonprofit organizations in Farmington are welcome to set up tables in the school, as well, though Patriotic Day organizers prefer that the community organizations focus the themes of their displays on how they can assist Farmington's veterans and military men and women.
"This is a chance for our community to come and eat dinner together, visit the displays that are set up and learn how organizations in our community are emulating patriotism," said North Trail Elementary School principal Dr. Steven Geis, who is one of the committee members.
Following the free dinner, guests are invited to an hour-long patriotic-themed program in the FHS recital hall. The program features vocal selections sung by a combined choir of fourth grade students from across District 192, and instrumental numbers by a combined eighth grade band.
The featured speaker of the evening will be Iraq veteran John Kreisel, who lost both of his legs in an IED explosion while deployed. Since his recovery, Kreisel has made a life of talking about his experiences.
The program encompasses a little bit of everything. Members from the Farmington American Legion and the Farmington VFW will provide the combined color guard, and Warrior to Citizen director Annette Kuyper will talk about the programs offered to Farmington military families and veterans.
"The definition of being a Yellow Ribbon City means infusing support in every area of the community," Kuyper said. "This is one way we can show that support (for military men and women and veterans) within every key area of our community."
Though the program will be a big focus of the community's salute to veterans, there will be a whole lot going on at the schools, too - things many people won't even see.
In the week leading up to the Patriotic Day event, several of Farmington's veterans will visit four of the district's schools to talk to fifth graders about their military experiences. They'll bring memorabilia, share memories and answer questions.
They will talk to students about flag protocol, particularly when it comes to respecting the flag of the United States of America, and will hand out flags to the students.
Art teachers throughout the district have been asked to make decorations for the event, and the students who are learning the patriotic songs for the program are studying the history of those same songs and learning how those messages still apply today.
"This is not just a one-day event. What would be ideal is, one week later, when it's Veteran's Day, wouldn't it be great if everyone would remember to thank a vet for their service?" Geis said.
The Patriotic Day Celebration is open to the public, though organizers extend a special invitation to the veterans and military men and women of the community.
Dinner reservations are requested so organizers can plan the proper amount of food. Those reservations can be made by calling Laura Abrams at NTES, 651-460-1805; or by going to the Community Education web page, www.farmingtonCE.com.
Any organization interested in setting up a table should call Annette Kuyper at 651-460-2248 or e-mail, Annette.email@example.com.
Reservations are not necessary for the program, though. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and special accommodations are being made for guests with physical limitations.
"It's my understanding that, during the homecoming parade, people didn't know or honor or recognize the time-honored tradition of standing when the flag goes by," Geis said. "This Patriotic Day will help rekindle the spirit of civic duty and pride in our country.
"Farmington has a rich tradition of recognizing our military and service men and women through various veterans events. Because we have this rich history of veterans programs, this is a continuation of those. Only, we're making it larger and collaborating with our whole community."