Stacy Henry was determined to give her first graders a Veterans Day lesson to remember.
Thanks to a little persistence – and a hand from USO Bagram in Afghanistan – she was able to pull off a lesson the kids at Thaddeus Stevens Primary Center in New Castle, Pa., won’t soon forget.
“This year, with my husband being in the [Army Reserve] and two of his fellow soldiers being deployed in Afghanistan, I decided that it would be awesome to connect with them,” Henry said.
Henry’s initial plan was to virtually connect her students with Army Reserve Sgts. Michael Maurer and Joshua Reilly – both deployed to Afghanistan with the 333rd Engineer Company – for a Skype chat. Maurer and Reilly are in the same reserve unit as Henry’s husband, Sgt. Todd Henry.
While the two deployed soldiers weren’t able to get in on the event, Henry was still able to uplink her school’s gymnasium – packed with 300 first-through-third graders – to USO Bagram to speak with troops at the center on Veterans Day. Todd Henry and fellow Army Reserve Spc. Jason McCray also came to the school to be with the kids during the Skype connection. The kids read a poem, sang patriotic songs and even tried to ask a few questions of the troops on the other end of the call.
“[It was] an awesome, unforgettable, honorable, memorable event on Veterans Day, which I feel proud to be a part of,” said Stacy Henry, whose youngest son, Morgan, is a third grader at the school.
And while Maurer and Reilly missed out on the chat, they won’t be forgotten. Henry said the school was preparing care packages for the duo, and was also looking to send a large envelope full of student-written letters their way.
Constitution Center Links to Troops Downrange
Troops at USO Kandahar pose next to a Skype connection to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia during a Veterans Day event. USO photo
USO Kandahar also got in on the Veterans Day Skype action, linking up to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia for a Q&A with visitors.
USO Kandahar’s DJ Stanhope linked up with Liberty USO – which covers the Philadelphia region – to set up the Skype call, where visitors to the National Constitution Center got an inside view of USO Kandahar and the life of a deployed service member.
Stanhope said the highlight of the call came when two children – a boy around the age of 2 and a girl no more than 4 – sang “God Bless America” for three young soldiers who were participating in the call from Kandahar.