D-Day survivor Harry Crouch remembered back to the events of June 6, 1944, when he landed at Normandy with the U.S. Army's 90th Division.
"I landed on the beach, the boat got hit," he said.
Crouch wore part of his uniform and medals from the war to the Veterans Day Salute at Bonnie Brae Elementary School in Fairfax. From Normandy, he went inland to eventually see the end of World War II.
"I was with Patton the day when the 7th Panzer Division surrendered," he said.
Crouch was among parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors that were honored by the fourth-grade students at the annual commemoration. Bonnie Brae principal Janet McCurdy is in her fifth year at the school. The fourth grade has been doing the ceremony since before she came.
"It's a tradition. It's been going on for a number of years," she said.
Fairfax resident Helene Valenti's daughter Jackie was among the students who sang patriotic songs, played songs on the recorder or read heroic themes.
"I always think it's important for kids to learn where they get their freedom," Valenti said
It was Jackie's birthday as well.
"It teaches them to get over stage fright. She's been talking about this for weeks," Valenti said.
Nine-year-old Sam Kelaher was the master of ceremonies and the drummer. He looked out on the crowd at the various uniforms. There were members of the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard present.
"They're actually brave enough to fight so we can sleep at night without getting hurt," he said.
Sam saw his parents in the crowd.
"I just think my parents are out there because they're proud of me," he said.
Ladan Abdulkadir, 9, from Burke liked playing "You're a Grand Old Flag" the best on her recorder.
"Some of the notes are really hard," she said.
The audience was full of current military men and women, veterans and family. Some were friends and neighbors. Crouch was a guest of a school staff member. He thought the message was getting through to the students, though.
"I think the children should know what the people went through to have what they have now," he said.
William Visted was there for his nephew, Joey Priftis. Visted is a major in the U.S. Marine Corps.
"I think it's critical for them," he said.
McCurdy said the program gets recognition year after year.
"We get letters of thank-you from grandparents that are honored, parents that are honored. We've gotten a very positive response," she said.