On Thursday morning, Eldon Pontius, Commandant of the local Marine Corps League and Wanda Bruce, a Blue Star Mother, spoke to the second grade class in the science and social studies lab about what it means to love your country enough to separate from those you love and risk your life to defend it. More classes followed that day, and Pontius, Bruce and Sandra Myers were also joined by Bruce Bendler, who also spoke the next day at the high school with his wife, Lisa, another veteran.
Bruce showed the kids her banner that featured her blue star. Although the children didn’t know what it meant, she explained that the star represented her son, Ronald Bruce, who is currently doing a tour of duty in Afghanistan after a previous one in Iraq. Bruce said that patriotism is something one should learn early, so it was good to see them there learning to be good Americans. She showed the children a picture of the Afghan countryside.
“You’ll notice there aren’t any stores there,” Bruce said, explaining that she and other Blue Star Mothers send frequent care packages to their sons. She said the most unusual request she had gotten from Ronald was over the summer when he asked for a Super Soaker. This amused the second-graders quite a bit.
Pontius spoke to the class next, telling them he had been in the Marines for 21 years.
“Whoa!” several of the kids exclaimed, followed by a smattering of, “Cool!”
Myers, who introduced the speaker, joked that Pontius wanted to make clear that he was in the Marines, not the Army, like she had been.
“Uh, yes, but I respect all our military,” Pontius said laughing.
The children applauded when Pontius showed them the 12 medals and ribbons pinned to his left breast. Pontius opened the floor for questions and hands shot up instantly. Most of them simply wanted to mention parents or other relatives who were in the military. One asked Pontius how old he was. When he replied that he was 59, the whole room gasped in shock.
“He’s old!” one student said as he turned to the Cadiz Record reporter to his left.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.