HAMMOND — While other students took Veteran’s Day off Wednesday, the student body of North Coast Christian School took to the nave of Gateway Community Church to honor those who have served.

One by one, using red and white construction paper handprints with a message why they are thankful for veterans, more than 100 students built a makeshift American flag near the pulpit.

Each student had something different to be thankful for. They ran the gamut from family members surviving cancer to having food on the table.

With most schools closed for the day, third- and fourth-grade teacher Kirstin Salmi said the church and school wanted give veterans a place to be honored by youths. Chris Schauermann, principal of North Coast Christian and pastor of Gateway Community Church, made the rounds in the audience of family and friends Wednesday, letting kids give a shout-out to their veteran family members, sometimes somber and other times akin an episode “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

Eight-grader Isabella Morrill explained why she thinks Veteran’s Day is important.

“Veterans give their freedom to give us ours. Their selfless quality should be an example for all of us in America,” Morrill said.

“Why do we celebrate Veteran’s Day? To give our gratitude, our honor. We must realize that Veteran’s Day is not a pointless holiday. Veteran’s Day is not a day that Americans should shuck aside.”

Members from Veterans of Foreign Wars Fort Stevens Post 10580 attended, giving out buddy poppies, the official memorial flower of the VFW.

Leroy Dunn, quartermaster of the Fort Stevens chapter, read “When a Soldier Dies,” a poem written by Jim Willis, a former director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, in 2004.

“So enjoy your freedom, your family and fun, but stop to remember where it all came from,” the last stanza of Willis’ poem reads. “Freedom is triumph over evil and lies, and it’s paid for each time a soldier dies.”

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