Veterans in Milford received an outpouring of love this week from hundreds of elementary school students in Kent and Sussex counties.
Students at six elementary schools in Milford and Georgetown made more than 1,000 thank-you cards for residents of the Delaware Veterans Home as part of Congressman John Carney’s second-annual Valentines for Vets program.
Carney on Monday personally picked up the valentines from students at Lulu Ross Elementary School and hand delivered them to the veterans home off of Airport Road in Milford.
“I think it’s great to be thought of on Valentine’s Day,” said New York native Otis Mason, a veteran of the U.S. Marines and the Air Force. “This takes me back to when we used to make valentines when I was in school.”
Vernon Krause, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in World War II and the Korean War, said the handmade card and lollipop he received from the children were his first Valentine’s Day presents since his wife of 64 years passed away in 2010.
“It’s really something for them to think of us like this,” he said. “It makes me feel real nice.”
Carney (D-Del.) said the purpose of the program, which he held last year in New Castle County, is two-fold.
“I think the veterans get a big kick out of knowing these cards came from kids who appreciate and respect their years of service, and the smiles I see on their faces let me know it’s worth it,” he said. “But it’s also reciprocal, because it helps create an awareness of among the children of the sacrifice and commitment of their parents and grandparents who served in the military.”
Cynthia McKenzie, the principal at Lulu Ross Elementary School, said the students in second through fifth grades who made the cards took those lessons to heart.
“Several of these students have family members in the military, but for other I think it helped them gain some knowledge of what a veteran is and how they served our country,” she said. “I know a lot of the cards the children made mentioned how thankful they are that the veterans fought for us, so we can be free.”
Second grader Nicholas Colona, 8, said he learned a lot about veterans, like his PeePaw.
“I made a heart and colored it and told them we’re glad they served our country,” he said. “I also learned that if you get shot and live from it you get a medal called a Purple Heart.”
Third grader Beau Davis said she learned anyone can serve in the military.
“My valentine has hearts on it and is red and pink,” she said. “I wrote, ‘I don’t know what we’d do without you,’ because I just want them to know they do a good job.”
Third grader Gavin Bittenbender, 8, said he made his valentine with his father, Michael, who serves in the Air Force, while making his valentine.
“I think it’s important to thank all the veterans because they all do a great job serving our country,” he said. “We all appreciate it a lot.”
Other schools that participated in the Valentines for Vets program this year included Milford’s Banneker Elementary, Mispillion Elementary, North Georgetown Elementary, Georgetown Elementary and the Howard T. Ennis School.