Residents adjacent to Washington Early Education Center were treated to a parade Tuesday morning by students in Amy Peska’s and Lisa Hoffman’s Head Start classes on the 11th anniversary of terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. 2001. The students marched single file, beating tambourines, shaking maracas and waving the flag as they circled the block, showing their patriotic spirit. Earlier they visited with PFC Dalton Lutz, an area Army soldier and Tanya Shryock, the mother of SPC Zachary Shryock, a deployed Army soldier stationed in Afghanistan, who gave a question and answer program about what it means to be a soldier, and some of the jobs that soldiers do.
PFC Lutz said he knew he wanted to be a soldier while in high school, but was uncertain which branch to enter. A teacher took the time to explain to him what he could expect out of the Army and the Marines, and Lutz said he chose the Army so he could begin his service in the National Guard and complete his bachelor’s degree. He plans then to enter the full-time Army. Currently, he is attached to the Smith Center armory, and works as a vehicle mechanic. He explained what the different elements of the uniform he wears means for the kids.
“We always have an American flag on our right shoulder, and the flag always has the stars facing forward,” he said. “Does anyone know why?”
Both kids and teachers could not guess.
“Its because the U.S. Army always moves forward. We never go back, we always move ahead,” he said.
He also taught them the ins and outs of saluting, and the students practiced raising their hands to their forehead, making sure their palms face out so a superior officer could see them.
Peska also introduced the students to her mother, Tonya Shryock of Cheney. Shryock’s son, SPC Shryock, is currently deployed in Afghanistan a Stryker Brigade commander. When her son was deployed, a friend gave her “Bubba Bear”, which she brought along to help the children understand what soldiers wear and how they live while deployed. The stuffed bear wore a replica Army uniform, complete with dog-tags and sunglasses to keep the desert sun out of its eyes. Shryock also brought a miniature tent and sleeping bag to pass around for the kids to see, and explained some of the duties her son is responsible for.
SPC Shryock is part of a reconnaissance team, serving as a radio technical operator. He has attended jump school as part of his training, completing five jumps, and hopes to attend helicopter repair school in the future, she said.
Shryock told the children they could help soldiers by keeping them in their thoughts and prayers.
“You can wave at soldiers when you see them on the street,” she said. “And, you can go up to them and shake their hand say “Thank you for your service,” when you see them too.”
Peska’s and Hoffman’s students planned to draw pictures of Bubba Bear and write letters for Shryock to send to her son. Earlier, the students created a special flag using hand prints and foot prints in red and white as a gift for PFC Lutz.