r Text and Photo by Ed Helmick
The legacy of our flag and the defenders of that flag need to be remembered from generation to generation. With that thought in mind, American Legion Post 68 organized a program they called “Walk for the Life of a Solder.” Teaching about the heritage of our flag and the soldiers, sailors and airmen that have served our nation was the educational purpose of this two-day event held for Spanish Fork and Salem fifth-grade students.
The sponsored event was held May 17 and 18 at the Spanish Fork Sports Park. School buses brought in a total of 1,200 students from 13 elementary schools over the course of the two-day event. The official title of the program was “Walk for the Life of a Fallen Soldier.” It was described as a walk for life, a walk for patriotism and a walk for the love of the freedom we all enjoy. Students had eight event stations to walk to. It was a wonderful prelude to Memorial Day.r
The opening ceremony included the raising of the flag to the bugle call (“To The Colors”). A short speech was given about the history of the flag. A choir from Riverview Elementary School directed by Mrs. Bundy and a choir group from Spanish Oaks Elementary School directed by Mrs. Christensen sang a melody of patriotic songs on each day of the program. Each student was issued a T-shirt and “dog tags,” so a short speech was given about the importance of a soldier’s dog tags. The importance of a soldier was given by quoting the writing of Charles M. Province:
“It is the Soldier, not the minister who has given us freedom of religion.rIt is the Soldier, not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press.rIt is the Soldier, not the poet who has given us freedom of speech.rIt is the Soldier, not the campus organizer who has given us freedom to protest.rIt is the Soldier, not the lawyer who has given us the right to a free trial.rIt is the Soldier, not the politician who has given us the right to vote.rIt is the Soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag,rand whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protesters to burn the flag.”
The students and their escorts dispersed in class groups to walk to eight event stations. The total distance walked was over a mile. The walk included five stations staffed by local veterans who told their stories and experiences as well as a wall of fame with individual stories and a reminder of Flanders Field Military Cemetery. At the final station, students took a class photo. The National Guard had a display of a several vehicles for the students to experience.
Lunch was served and a closing ceremony held before the students returned to their school buses with an appreciation for our nation’s soldiers.