ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- At Canterbury School, a spirit of patriotism flows on Veterans Day. During a ceremony on Monday morning, students wave flags, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and sing songs.
This is a special day at the St. Petersburg school, and students know it is one filled with remembering and thanks to "the people who served, and the people who are still serving, and the people who died in the wars to protect us," explains 9-year-old Nia Tomalin.
Dozens of veterans take part in this ceremony by marching behind banner-carrying students. They are parents and grandparents, friends of teachers, real people who faced real dangers, including Mike McDonald. "101st Airborne, helicopter pilot," he says into a microphone.
The Vietnam veteran says it does his heart good to see young people learning about and honoring the sacrifices made by service members. Perhaps this show of respect means so much, because McDonald remembers a time when he quickly ditched his army uniform.
"When I came back from Vietnam, I changed in the airport and put on civilian clothes, because I was already being spit at," he recalls. "Now I can wear my uniform proudly."
McDonald accepts worn flags from the students to dispose of them properly. But flags aren't the only things McDonald leaves with today -- he walks away with a good feeling about kids and the future of this country.
"It's all about the kids," McDonald says, pointing at his grandson. "That's what an old soldier works for."
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