Students help honor veterans in Randolph - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Students help honor veterans in Randolph

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RANDOLPH, Vt. -

Students at the Randolph Technical Center are getting a lesson outside the classroom. They're learning about the importance of honoring the nation's veterans.

The mission is to place a flag at each veteran's grave in seven cemeteries in one day.

"We start after 10:30 and we're done. We did 800 markers," said Russell Heyl, a member of the American Legion.

And as Memorial Day approaches, the message is to honor those who have served our country.

"If it wasn't for them we wouldn't be here technically today," said Timothy Patch, a student.

The tradition began eight years ago with one man.

"His feet don't work anymore, so he called me. And in a true legion fashion, I got volunteered for the job," Heyl said.

Sumpter Smalls is the man who went from grave to grave placing flags on graves beginning in 2005. But now that army of one has grown to a group of 16 students from instructor Tom Harty's criminal justice and public safety class.

"The local American Legion here approached us and said you know our guys are getting pretty old, it takes a while. Could you help out? So, that's how it all started," Harty said.

For students like Mason Bernardini, who have already enlisted in the military, placing flags at the graves of veterans is just another way to continue giving back.

"All my uncles in my family have been in the military, so I've grown up around the military honor system," Bernardini said.

Other students, like Timothy Patch, continue to show their appreciation for our servicemen and women by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before class.

"Before I ship out to boot camp I'm hoping that the whole school can actually go out and say the pledge," Patch said.

"I thank the kids a lot because it would be much harder without them," Heyl said.

The flags will be displayed at the Randolph cemeteries until Memorial Day.

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