By Jose Herrera
Signal Staff Writer
Every year Americans celebrate Veterans Day, but many younger children don’t fully comprehend the reason behind that day of recognition and honor. Brianna Caplan, a teacher on special assignment at Bridgeport Elementary School, wanted her students to understand veterans’ sacrifice, bravery and valor when they choose to serve their country.
So, she along with fourth-grade students created a collaborative poster thanking local veterans. Caplan and a few of her students, who helped with the project, presented the letters and poster to the Santa Clarita Veteran Services Collaborative in Newhall on Wednesday.
“I feel like it’s really important with our students that when we get our days off of school, that students truly understand why we’re not going to school,” Caplan said. “We should talk a little bit more about the meaning, about the why we’re celebrating (Veterans Day), and why we need to remember and honor it.”
Caplan was able to involve all the students at Bridgeport by having them write appreciation letters and thank you cards to veterans. In total, students wrote more than 100 letters for veterans.
Leonard and Anne Snyder were at the veterans’ center writing a check to donate when the fourth-graders came in with their poster and letters.
Leonard served in the Vietnam War between 1965 and 1969. He was also diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, most commonly known as ALS, a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function.
While ALS has not affected his motor skills, it has taken away his ability to speak.
Leonard was overcome with emotion and began to cry tears of joy when he saw the young students come in with their letters of appreciation and the poster.
“Just having someone walk up and say thank you for your service,” said Anne, Leonard’s wife, who often helps him communicate. “It means so much to him.”
Fourth graders Sadie Littlefield, Camille Nowakowski and Londyn Supa helped with the poster and wrote letters to veterans. Each one decorated their letter with bright colors and added a picture.
“I’m excited to give my note to the veterans because we get to honor them for their service,” Supa said.
Jamie Bailey and Bob Dittmer volunteer at the veterans’ center. Dittmer is a 35-year veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm during the first Gulf War.
Bailey added that they are a referral center. They guide veterans to the information and services they need. They also offer a food pantry and bathroom necessities for veterans.
She said they will hang the poster on the wall and add a sign identifying that the poster came from Bridgeport Elementary.
“It just touched my heart because I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of those letters,” Dittmer said. “I love the fact that the gentleman was here, so that they (students) could see the reaction. That was an experience that they’re never going to forget.”