STEUBEN — Things changed for Suzanne Harmon when she became a Marine and started driving huge military vehicles.
“I went from 16-inch tires to 1,700-pound tires,” she told the crowd at Ella Lewis Elementary School in Steuben Nov. 8.
Harmon, of Sullivan, addressed students, teachers and members of the community during the school’s Veterans Day program.
In addition to offering details of military life, Harmon talked about what she learned from the Marines — honor, respect, courage and commitment. She encouraged the audience to embody those values every day and to get back up and try again after making mistakes.
“Stand and be proud to be an American,” she said.
Ella Lewis teachers and staff were excited about the annual program, for which they had been preparing since the start of the school year, said Principal Shannon Forni.
It began with refreshments for area veterans and their families.
“A couple of teachers made some goodies for the vets,” Forni said, adding staff members had been busy decorating the school the previous week.
Students performed several patriotic songs under the direction of music teacher Steve Hodgdon, who explained the background of the music.
The final song was a medley that incorporated songs representing the five branches of the military — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Veterans were asked to stand during segments representing the branch in which they served.
At the conclusion of the program, students gave the veterans in attendance handmade cards thanking them for their service.
Forni said she believes it’s important to invite not only veterans but also members of the community to celebrate the freedom veterans helped safeguard.
“This is something that is very, very important to all of our lives,” she said, “and we wanted to make sure we recognized that.”