West Elementary students welcomed special guests, The Fallen Soldiers March, to their school on Veterans Day.
The Fallen Soldiers March began at Nashville's Legislative Plaza and traveled on-foot to their destination, the Wilson County Veterans Plaza in Lebanon, on Friday. U.S. Military veterans provided a motorcycle escort.
The group stopped at West Elementary to share their message. The non-profit organization works tirelessly to provide veterans with mobility and PTSD trained service dogs. Service dog Glory, who was awarded to Sgt. Brian Buckingham of Clarksville in September, participated in the march along with Buckingham.
The Fallen Soldiers March was greeted on the front lawn of West Elementary by students, chanting "U-S-A," waving American flags and some holding their hands up for high-fives.
According to FSM President Jim Retzke students also greeted them when the march was founded eight years ago.
He explained the multi-fold mission of Fallen Soldiers March.
"We wanted to honor our fallen and their families, our active duty and their families. We wanted to inspire and revive patriotism and teach our children by example," he said. "I can't tell you how much what you are doing means to veterans and our military."
Retzke said it costs about $30,000 to train a service dog. While the government will provide service dogs to those with sight issues, they do not provide dogs for other disorders and disabilities - such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. "It is up to us citizens to make sure the veterans get these dogs," he added.
Retzke next introduced recipient Sgt. Buckingham, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Buckingham flew over 300 missions and received nine medals.
A humble Buckingham took the microphone to thank students for their support.
"We are on mile 20 - or more - of the march. This is the biggest crowd and support. It means a lot and I'll never forget you guys," he said, turning to Glory. "This is Glory, my service dog. From my combat tours, I incurred injuries and disabilities. Glory helps me with those."
For more information on the Fallen Soldiers March visit www.fallensoldiersmarch.com.
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at email@example.com.