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Third-graders from Dallas Elementary School write letters to veterans

Times Leader - 11/5/2017

Nov. 05--DALLAS TWP. -- "Dear Grandpa," some letters began.

Or "Dear Pop-Pop ..."

"Dear Dad ..."

"Dear Uncle Lance ..."

Whether they were writing to a grandfather or father, a cousin, an uncle or a family friend, each child in Julie Bird's third-grade class at Dallas Elementary School had an important message for a veteran or current member of the armed forces, just in time for Veterans Day: "I want to thank you for your service to our country."

First, they wrote a practice letter -- a "sloppy copy," Mrs. Bird called it -- and then a final copy, with correct spellings, neatly printed words and, as 8-year-old Tessa Brady mentioned, "that extra 'd' in 'granddaughter.'"

Some of the children were writing to relatives they may never have seen face-to-face.

"I don't know if I ever met him," said Angela Loftus, who addressed her letter to her cousin, Jeffrey. "If I did, I was very little."

But others know their personal military hero well enough to have had conversations about his service.

"He had to jump off a 100-foot helicopter," 8-year-old Michael McLaughlin said of his stepdad, Steve.

"He was on a beach where people got too hot. What do they call it when people get too hot?" Michael quietly asked a classroom visitor.

"Heat stroke? Heat exhaustion?" the visitor suggested.

"Yeah," Michael agreed.

"It's really hard, and you could die," the boy said of military service. Nevertheless, it's something he's considering for himself. "I'd like to be a Marine, or a marine biologist," he said.

Eight-year-old Nick Bednar is interested in joining the armed forces too.

"I'm practicing with BBs," he said, explaining he occasionally shoots at targets with his Cub Scout pack.

When Mrs. Bird was a fourth-grade student, her class wrote letters of appreciation to veterans. That's why she has her third-graders write similar letters today. It increases their letter-writing skills, she said, and it lets the veterans know "your service will never be forgotten."

As Alexis Angelovic carefully wrote her letter to her dad, Chris, she said she is very glad he has returned from serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Operation Quick Response. She missed him very much when he was gone, she said, and she gave him a big hug when he came back.

___

(c)2017 The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

Visit The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) at www.timesleader.com

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