Tonawanda News — Katie Eckstein, the head teacher of the North Tonawanda Head Start Program at Grant Elementary School, believes in the importance of teaching children about patriotism from a young age.
Kids in the program have been learning that there is more to the American Flag than just stars and stripes. As a tribute to those who have fought to preserve the meaning of the flag, the pre-K students held their annual Red, White and Blue Day parade.
"The kids love the parade," Eckstein said. "They hold flags and sing songs all the way there and all the way back, they're excited to do it. It's surprising that at such a young age they understand (that theres more to the American flag) and they have their own sense of pride for their country."
Over 80 students lined up outside Grant Elementary at 10 a.m. on Monday morning. Head start teacher Mary Hillman said each child had a flag and made red, white and blue hats to wear in the parade.
They marched from the school to the Veterans Memorial on Payne Avenue, waving their flags and singing songs like "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "Yankee Doodle" along the way.
When they got there the kids gathered in front of the monument and were then addressed by North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt, along with several veterans from Sikora Post.
Ortt told the kids that the flag stands for more than just the USA, that it's a symbol for freedom, courage and safety. Noting that there are American men and woman all around the world who are fighting right now to preserve those rights.
"They know what (the flag) means but understanding the deeper meaning of it is important," Ortt said after talking to the kids at the Veterans Monument. "Over time they are certainly able to grasp that it means something more."