Hearthstone, a Ministry of WesleyLife, honored 24 residents and two team members who are veterans for their military service at a celebration with students on Friday, Nov. 9, in the dining room of Fair Haven East, 607 East Third St., Pella.
“Our Veterans Day celebration is one way Hearthstone honors our residents and team members who selflessly dedicated a part of their life to our country,” says Nancy Hamilton, Hearthstone Executive Director. “Partnering with local schools and creating multi-generational relationships and learning is an enriching experience for our residents, students and the Greater Pella community.”
The interactive celebration began with students from Deb Fessler’s first-grade class at Madison Elementary School singing songs, reciting poetry and presenting a thank-you card to each veteran.
In addition, 36 seventh graders in a literature class taught by Amanda Herder and Valerie Keegan at Pella Christian School participated in an essay contest sponsored by Hearthstone in observance of Veterans Day.
Each student wrote about what freedom means to him or her. The entries were divided among three veterans: Marion Klyn, Mel Vos and Bill Schimmel. Each veteran selected his favorite essay. The three winning authors, who will each receive a U.S. savings bond, are:
-Alexis De Vries, daughter of Tom and Jill De Vries
-Mark Vande Haar, son of Evan and Christy Vande Haar
-Jakob Van Vark, son of Curtis and Donna Van Vark
Dot Beason, Hearthstone Director of Home Services, read Vande Haar’s essay, titled “Freedom’s Price,” at the celebration.
His essay states that “The price of freedom is very big. We lose people every day due to war. But because of those people we have the freedom to do the things we want. We can choose what we want to do when we get older. We are free to worship freely. Some countries don’t have the freedom that we have. The freedom we have is very important and I am very grateful that we get to have freedom.”
Following the program, the first graders joined the veterans and other Hearthstone residents for cookies while a community volunteer played patriotic songs on the piano.
Freedom’s Price by Mark Vande Haar
The price of freedom is very big. We lose people every day due to war. But because of those people, we have the freedom to do the things we want. We can choose what we want to do when we get older. We are able to worship freely. Some countries don’t have the freedom that we have. The freedom we have is very important and I am very grateful that we get to have freedom.
The sacrifices that are made so that we can have our own free country are great. The people who are called to defend our freedom are trained and then sent off to fight. Many of the men and women who are sent into action miss out on many family activities. Some soldiers even sacrifice their lives for us. The men and women often don’t get to say goodbye to their families.
The men and women who do live and who are able to get back home to see their family get to rejoice because they get to live another day and get to see their children grow up. But even they have sacrificed a lot. They have kept us from being put under a strict ruler and have enabled us to do things that others might not get to do. Just like in the letters we read, soldiers want their children to understand the sacrifices that they make for their freedom. Their sacrifice has given us the opportunity to do almost anything we want.
The freedom the soldiers have earned us has given us the freedom to do things like: vote, get the career we want, have the friends we want and many more things. Freedom means that I get to pursue the job I want, farmer, and I get to choose the class I want to take for college (AG or mechanic). I love that freedom! We also get to live in our own houses and make our own decisions when we get over 18 (only six more years)! But I can wait for that time to come.
We can go to a Christian school or a public school. We have a choice that can go either way. Whether we are black or white or Asian (that’s me), we all have the same rights and can be just as high up in the business office as others. That feel of freedom is great!
We have been given the freedom to worship the Lord. We don’t always realize that we are able to worship the Lord freely without being persecuted and thrown in jail or killed. We have the freedom to worship freely in our churches without the government coming in and shutting the church down.
Most of us take for granted that we get to tell others about God and get to have our own little church groups. Some people have to hide underground or in a pitch dark house just to talk about the Lord. We get to have a Bible and don’t have to hide it away, but can keep it anywhere. We are free to worship the Lord our God!
How much does freedom cost us? Well, freedom cost many soldiers their lives while they were fighting to keep our country free. Thanks to them we can make our own decisions and can pursue whatever we want as a job. We can do things like worship God without having persecution. We can have our own Bible. We take for granted all of the freedom that we have been given. Sometimes we forget those who are being persecuted in other countries. Our freedom is GREAT!
Mark Vande Haar is one of three seventh graders at Pella Christian School selected as authors of the best essays about what freedom means to them in a competition sponsored by Hearthstone. The other winning students are Alexis De Vries and Jakob Van Vark.