Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Praise for Oakland Terrace Elementary School's Magic Garden
On Monday, May 24, it was a delight and honor to be a speaker for the Honor & Remember ceremony held at Oakland Terrace Elementary school in Panama City, Florida. Michele Creel is the art teacher for students who have a Magic Garden created outside the school room door. The magic garden began several years ago with various items created by children and others, such as the tree of life. Then there are the butterfly boxes and butterfly plants. A painted dolphin greets visitors inside the gate as one steps onto the beautiful mosaic footpath also the work of Ms. Creel's students. But what is most special is the arbor where this beautiful hand crafted path leads to. A special arbor built and placed in the magic garden by Charlie Thompson, a volunteer at the school during months he and his wife Barb come from the cold season of Minnesota to the warmer climate of Panama City Beach.
It was August 6, 2007 when Charlies & Barb's son, SSgt Jacob Thompson, of the 1st Bn, 23rd Inf Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infrantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat team) from Fort Lewis, Washington was killed in Iraq. When Ms. Creel learned of this great loss, she wanted to know what could be done for Charlie and Barb, volunteers who provided pizza for the art kids and helped keep with the magic garden.
When Charlie returned from Minnesota he asked to build and place an arbor of honor in the garden to not only become a special place of remembrance for his son Jacob, but for other heroes who gave their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
After my husband and I moved into the neighborhood where Charlie and Barb lived during the winter months, of course we met and Charlie made it a point that our Patrick's name be added to the arbor of remembrance. It is with this year 2010, that Dave and I had the privilege to be a part of the school ceremony on Monday, May 24. Unfortunately Charlie & Barb had to return to Minnesota for a family emergency before the 24th. But I was so pleased and honored that after conversations with Ms. Creel, I was asked to say a few words that day.
So, after giving thought to what I should say after thanking the princpal, teachers, and students for such a wonderful Magic Garden that also remembered heroes, I chose to tell the history of the Blue and Gold Star service flags that represent military families who have loved ones serving and those who die while wearing the uniform of our military. Afterwards, I presented a Blue Star service flag to the school principal and asked that children be taught the meaning of this symbol that was lost to history after WWII.