Students send flags to thank soldiers
Published 10:30 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014
About 30 envelope-size flags are on the way to Afghanistan after ninth-grade students cross-stitched them for soldiers overseas.
“It took a while, but I knew it would mean a lot to them,” said Jessica Rubio, 14.
Jessica, along with her classmates in Austin High School’s explorations class, were working on the clothing and textiles unit when they cross-stitched the flags, which have been shipped to soldiers overseas, along with a brief letter thanking them for their service.
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“It means something to the soldiers while they’re away from their family,” Jessica said.
The students’ teacher, Brenda Stevermer, said the project started off an idea from a co-worker at a different school.
“I just knew that this was something that we needed to continue on in this school,” she said.
After contacting Mower County Veteran Services Officer Wayne Madson, the group was able to find a troop from Minnesota serving in Afghanistan to send the flags to.
Stevermer has hopes that they will contact back with letters of their own, so the students get a better understanding of what the flags mean to the soldiers.
“I think the [students] understand to a certain level, but unless a person has actually missed a family member, they might not understand the true importance until we actually get some letters back,” Stevermer said. “That’s what I’m hoping, is we get some correspondence back and the students will see how much of an impact it had on the [soldiers].”
After a 20-year career in the Air Force, Madson understood the importance of a project like this to soldiers who are away from home, especially over the holidays. Many soldiers get homesick, missing spouses, family and children, and some are straight out of high school or college and have never spent much time away from home. He recalled his own experience receiving letters or gifts while he was overseas.
“It just makes you know that there are still people in the United States that do care about you, that are thinking about you, and it just brings a little bit of sunshine into a gloomy day,” Madson said. “During Christmas time it was always kind of a special thing.”
The troops that will receive the flags are in the Combat Aviation Brigade in the Army, the 34th infantry division, and have the nickname the Wings of the Red Bull.
Madson said many of the soldiers could keep the flags as mementos for the rest of their lives, and some may wear it in their top pocket. He was very excited that the class wanted to follow through with a project that would mean so much to those overseas.
“I thought it was a wonderful project from the very start, and from their persistence on it, I give them an awful lot of credit, to the high school kids and their instructor,” Madson said.
Future explorations classes will continue the project in the upcoming months and will send them overseas or to veterans recovering at the Veteran’s Affairs hospital in the Twin Cities.