TOG Soldier strengthen relationship with local elementary


Story by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes

JOINT BASE MYER – HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Students from Westridge Elementary School sat patiently in the grass as they wait for the show to begin. They cheered as the performers made their way to the center of the field.

Soldiers with the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and the U.S. Army Drill Team, performed for students, faculty and parents at Westridge Elementary School, in Woodbridge, Virginia, on June 9, 2017.

“Here at Westridge, we are about 35 percent military,” said Tina Fox, a member of the Parent and Teacher Alliances, PTA, and one of the coordinators of the event. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to show appreciation to our military families and celebrate the end of the school year.”

The day began with a performance from The Old Guard’s Fife and Drum Corps, (FDC).

During the performance, the musicians also shared the historical importance the FDC played on the battlefield and highlighted the role music continues to play in today’s military.

Next, the U.S. Army Drill Team performed.

“Anytime you get to see Soldiers swinging rifles with shiny bayonets attached to them you are in for an exciting show,” said Fox. “Judging from all of the kids’ reactions I think it’s safe to say they were very impressed.”

“The performances were great,” said Victoria Wolsort, a U.S Air Force Veteran and an art teacher at the school. “It was great to see the students connect lessons we have taught thorough out the year with performances they saw today.”

Following each of the performances Soldiers answered questions from the crowd and posed for photographs with the students.

Fox, the master of ceremony, feels it is essential to foster relationships between schools and the military.

“Events like this are important,” said Fox. “They offer the public a different view of the military and different roles the military has in our community.”

The event was successful and both students and volunteers expressed their appreciation for the Soldiers presence.

“Today has been great,” said Sara Case the president of the Westridge PTA. “The performances from [The Old Guard] was a great way for us to close out the year and celebrate all of the hard work the students have done. Events like this help to develop our children into well-rounded individuals.”

“The Soldiers with the [weapons] were my favorite part,” said Caleb Barsdale, a fourth grade student at Westridge. “They were really cool!”

“It was great to come out and see these outstanding Soldiers perform,” said retired 1st Sgt. Charlie Barsdale. “With all of my time in the military I never got the chance to learn how to do anything like that.”

Barsdale and his wife Mattie, traveled from Richmond, Virginia to accompany their grandchildren to the presentation. After seeing the Soldiers perform, the couple said they are excited to see them perform again at Twilight Tattoo.

Twilight Tattoo is a free, live-action military performance that offers viewers a glimpse into American’s history. The Soldiers perform every Wednesday evening at 6:30 P.M. at Summerall Field at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.

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