With Veterans Day fast approaching, United States Army Specialist, Christian Mendes, the son of East Street School Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Nancy Golec, took time to meet with his mother’s kindergarten students to share the meaning, and significance of this day. For Golec, it is important that her students have an understanding of the reason we celebrate and thank Veterans on November 11th, and not simply look at it as a day off from school and work.
Mendes, wearing his army uniform, began his visit by explaining a little bit about himself and his responsibilities at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee. He then read the book, Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops, written by Jill Biden. Biden is the wife of the United States Vice President, Joe Biden. She was inspired by granddaughter to tell the story through the eyes of a child of what family life is like when a parent is at war across the world.
According to kindergarten student Joey Toomey the book was “kind of sad in the beginning because the little girl misses her Dad who left their house because he was in the service.” With a smile, he added, “But in the end she (the little girl) was happy when her Dad came home.”
“It was awesome that Ms. Golec’s son read to us,” shared kindergartener Nathan Koziel. “He even showed us his special coin and told us the President is his boss!”
The special coin Nathan referred to is called a 3 Star General Coin. It was given to Mendes in 2012 by a Veteran at a ceremony on Bristol, CT. Mendes said he always carries the coin with him, in the pocket of his uniform.
Before leaving, students presented Mendes with personalized Veterans Day cards to thank him for his service. Kindergartner Aubrianna Stupek summed up the visit for her classmates sharing, “It was exciting to have him (Mendes) read to us about Veterans, and he really liked the cards we made for him.”