Memorial Day is a day where our nation pauses to give thanks to veterans who have passed away and to those who gave their lives in combat. Across the country, people remember veterans whom we’ve lost in a variety of ways. West Middle School in Greenwood Village has a very special way of giving thanks to veterans every Memorial Day.
For over fifteen years, the eighth grade class at West Middle has taken a field trip to Fort Logan National Cemetery on the Friday before Memorial Day. There guest speakers from the cemetery and other organizations give students a brief history lesson on Fort Logan and teach them how to perform the flag folding ceremony. They then become one of two schools that get to place American flags next to every headstone in the cemetery. “It’s a cool experience. You could tell all of us felt pretty emotional while doing this,” said eighth-grader Ben Livitz. Emotions were certainly running high as each new flag was put next to the headstones. The students were asked to take some time while planting each flag and think about the sacrifices made by each solider. Eighth-grade student Lucy Maloney said, “It’s pretty sad to think about how a lot of people buried here gave their lives fighting for our country. This is our way of thanking them.”
According to Social Studies teacher Andy Burns, students leave this trip with more than just a better understanding of Memorial Day. Burns said that after this field trip, “kids start to realize that freedom isn’t free. Going to Fort Logan gave them a visual that they can’t ignore.” The experience is one that many of these eighth-graders will never forget and the lessons they learned here will last a lifetime.