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Veterans Tell Stories to the Children

A few soldiers spellbind children at school, showing uniforms and telling stories.

It was red, white and blue day at a few of the area elementary schools on Thursday to celebrate Veterans Day.

"We wanted to honor the men and women who served in the Armed forces," said Principal Susan Kim, of Valley View Elementary School.

In Meghan Hanlon's fourth grade class, the students had a variety of speakers during the week to prepare the students for the meaning of Veterans Day. One mother came in to talk about what it was like being in the Israeli army, and a dad talked about his grandfather's involvement in the military in the 1930s.

On Thursday, just before the three-day vacation, retired Army officer Chad Bennett spoke about his involvement in the war in Iraq and Manuel Melendrez talked about Vietnam. 

Melendrez spoke about the people who went to Canada to avoid going to war during his era, and his voice cracked as he said, "I felt it was pretty unfair when they took them all back."

He went into detail about the 39 parachute jumps and countless helicopter jumps he made, and about the 200 pounds of gear he carried each jump.

"That's like carrying three of you," said the teacher, as the kids laughed. 

Melendrez brought in old photographs of himself from 1967, and also the religious medalions and keepsakes he had to keep himself safe. He also explained what dog tags were, and showed off his.

"They use that to identify you if you are dead," Melendrez said. "They take one of them, and they put the other one in your mouth."

One boy raised his hand and said he saw a movie like that where a soldier choked on his dog tag.

"Well, you're supposed to be dead before you do that," the veteran explained. "That is why movies are not like real life."

The 8 and 9 year olds were mesmerized.

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