MURRIETA – Patriotism is in the daily news this fall as controversies rage over singing the national anthem, standing or kneeling or not taking the playing field at all. But at the Murrieta Rotary Field of Honor, which opens this weekend, lessons in patriotism are everywhere, and thousands of elementary students can be seen, pencils and this magazine in hand, as they complete their lessons.
“Fifth-grade students from all 11 elementary schools in the Murrieta Valley Unified School District have this unique opportunity to learn stories of courage, sacrifice and heroism from veterans who have served our country,” Carol Hernandez, the Rotarian who is coordinating the student visits for 2017, said. Hernandez is also the MVUSD’s coordinator of visual and performing arts.
“When these students grow up to be outstanding citizens in our community, they won’t remember spelling tests or math quizzes, but they will remember their trip to the Field of Honor,” she said. “They will remember the flags waving in the wind and representing those who sacrificed their life or came back forever changed.
“They will remember the veterans who spoke passionately about serving in Vietnam or World War II. They will remember the chalk art with its illustrations of patriotism felt by everyone in the audience. The Field of Honor gives our students a glimpse of history that is felt in their hearts and revealed in their tears.”
The fifth grade visits started in the Field of Honor’s second year, after former District Superintendent Stan Scheer, a Rotarian and volunteer, had visited the Field of Honor the previous year and decided students should attend and soak in the glory of the flags and study the American history presented there. The Field of Honor has grown in years since with the addition of state flags and the chalk art. Unfortunately, the local Heroes section, which honors those who have given their life in military service since 2003, has also grown.
Students moving through the local Heroes section, which includes the date each service member died, can be heard saying, “That’s the day I was born!” or other similar explanations. In the Medal of Honor section, one youngster surprised docent and Field of Honor Co-chair Bob Bryant by explaining he had “found” his great-grandfather – Gen. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle.
Some students are quick to share the lessons of their day at the Field of Honor. They bring their parents back before the week is over and are seen showing them around, explaining each of the sections.
Schedule of events
Saturday, Nov. 4
- 7-9:45 a.m. – Flag setup
- 7:30 a.m. – 5K Run Forrest Run registration begins
- 8:30 a.m. – Phoenix Patriot Band begins
- 9 a.m. – 5K Run begins
- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Chalk Walk Painting
- 10 a.m. – Opening Ceremonies
- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Military Family Resource Expo and Paul Mitchell Cut-a-thon
- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Chalk Walk painting continues
- 1-5 p.m. – Music and Art Festival
Monday, Nov. 6
- 9-11:30 a.m. – Students visit the Field of Honor
- Noon to 1:30 p.m. – Rotary Luncheon honors veterans (by invitation)
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
- Students visit the Field of Honor
Wednesday, Nov. 8
- 6 p.m. – Candlelight Concert
Thursday, Nov. 9
- 5 p.m. – Final Salute, Flag Retirement Ceremony
Friday, Nov. 10
- Veterans Day Observed
- 1 p.m. – Marine Corps Birthday celebration
Saturday, Nov. 11
- 10 a.m. – Veterans Day Parade
- 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. – Flag pick up
- 6 p.m. – Patriots Ball
Sunday, Nov. 12
- 9 a.m. to noon – Flag pick up
- 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Strike the Field of Honor