- Cleburne Independent School District
It's Veterans Day Every Day at Wheat MS
While numerous Cleburne ISD campuses hosted Veterans Day activities on Monday, the remembrance of those who served-then and now-is a daily occurrence at Wheat Middle School.
Through the Flag of Honor program introduced at the campus this year--by a veteran on faculty--the flying of the U.S. flag over the campus is dedicated daily to a patriot in active duty; those in the reserves; those killed in the line of duty and veterans. The individual’s name, often submitted by a Wheat student or staff member, and information about them is included in the school announcements immediately following the Pledge of Allegiance.
Social studies teacher Mark LaCroix, who is new to Wheat this year, proposed the recognition program, bringing it with him from his years of service in Midland ISD. LaCroix, who served four years as a U.S. Air Force firefighter, including deployment to the middle east during Desert Storm, originally developed the program to honor two veterans in his life. His father and step-father were in the armed forces.
“Both served in Viet Nam and passed away within months of each other, “LaCroix said.
“The idea of the remembrance program came to me when I was driving cross country, back to Texas, with the flag from my dad’s funeral. I knew I wanted to do something specifically for those who have served our nation. Linking the flying of the flag over our school each day to the recognition of veterans was what I ultimately came up with.”
Wheat’s first Flag of Honor announcement recognized a patriot very special to Principal Suzanne Keesee. Her father is a veteran and a retired police officer.
“I love that we do this,” Keesee said. “I videoed the announcement and emailed it to my father. He served in Viet Nam and it meant a lot to him. Including this in our school announcements, each day lets our kids know that their classmates and teachers have family members who fought and died for our country or are serving right now. It’s very personal. We love our Veterans Day event we do every year to celebrate the people who have fought for us, but this lets us remember that service every day.”
In addition to naming a patriot of the day, information regarding their service, including branch and rank, duties, combat record and their relation to the nominator is announced.
LaCroix had Flag of Honor forms shared with patriots attending Wheat’s Veterans Day Luncheon and also passed them out to students during social studies classes.
“With this being new to Wheat, I thought it would be slow going in getting names to announce,” LaCroix said. “But they have been very steady coming in. We are excited to get more names. I always have a stack of forms in my car and visited in the adult Sunday school classes at my church to share there. I usually have one in my wallet as well. I’ve given a form away in a café in Maine and on a fishing boat in California. If I see someone in a veteran hat at IHOP, I give them a form.”
In 2010, LaCroix was named the Veterans of Foreign Wars Teacher of the Year for his work in establishing the Flag of Honor program in Midland.
“Of all the awards I’ve received, this means the most personally,” he said. “It’s extra work getting the forms out and getting information back, but it’s definitely worth it. The Wheat staff is very appreciative of the program. It really puts into perspective just how much has been given by our veterans. It’s a big deal.”
“Every year I include my dad in the first announcements we do,” LaCroix said. “His flag is what inspired this. It helps set the tone for my school year as a teacher. As much as that announcement means to me, I can’t let up because of what it can also mean to someone else. It matters. It’s so important to remember those who have and are honorably serving this country.”
“This is for the kids,” he said. “Every day, I hope this gives meaning to the flag they just pledged their allegiance to. I hope they understand the sacrifice made by so many to keep it flying.”
A Flag of Honor form has also been posted on the CISD website, c-isd.com. Completed forms for inclusion in the school announcements may be emailed to LaCroix at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wheat Middle School social studies teacher Mark LaCroix left, and Assistant Principal Landon Smith reviews the list of veterans and those currently serving to be included in the school’s announcements for the week. Veterans are remembered every day at the Wheat campus through the Flag of Honor program.