GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- More than 500 children, service members, veterans, and families celebrated Veterans Day at Charles Barnum Elementary School, Nov. 10.
During the hour-long tribute to veterans in the elementary auditorium, children from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade shared their thanks through songs and essays about their military parents' service and all veterans' sacrifices for the freedom for all.
Capt. Bruce Derenski, commander, Submarine Group 2 representative at General Dynamics Electric Boat spoke at the tribute and discussed his 31 years of service, including a tour as an individual augmentee in Iraq.
"Veterans Day is really an important day to connect with people especially about what this day means, especially with children," said Derenski. "They have given up a lot."
Catherine Hanson, community coordinator, Charles Barnum Elementary School organized this year's Veterans Day tribute and explained her passion for recognizing veterans' service.
"I have a passion for supporting the military and their families," said Hanson.
The Charles Barnum Elementary School chorus also performed during the tribute singing "Thank a Vet." One verse in their song reflects the meaning of Veterans Day, "if you cherish your freedom and love America, thank a vet."
At various other schools in the region, Naval Submarine Base New London Sailors visited with students at Pleasant Valley, Mary Morrison and West Side Middle School.
Paul Kadri, superintendent, Groton Public Schools also attended the Elementary School's tribute and congratulated the school for remembering veterans' sacrifices to defend liberty especially since the majority of students have a parent serving in the military.
"The school has the highest concentration of military families, nearly 90 percent of the children have at least one parent serving in the military," said Kadri.
In addition to honoring veterans, Charles Barnum Elementary School had other reasons to celebrate. Kadri emphasized that for a second year in a row, the school has received 100 percent proficiency in state math exam for students enrolled in third through fifth grades. Kadri encouraged the students to continue their lifelong interest in education.
"Keep that love for reading and math going, you make us proud in Groton," said Kadri.
Kadri, one of several guest speakers, reminded the largely military related audience that veterans are also their mothers and fathers. "District-wide over 20 percent of the children have parents that serve in the military," Kadri said.
U.S. Coast Guard Storekeeper Richard Harris, company chief assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Academy said Veterans Day is like "Thanksgiving for the military."
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day to mark the victorious end of World War I, when the main hostilities were silenced at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.