Harbor View Elementary School students honored veterans Tuesday in an assembly that included songs, stories and tributes to men and women who have served and are serving the United States of America.
"We want you to understand," said Stan Jones, who has a granddaughter in sixth grade at the school. "Let me tell you kids, we went because we love our country, but you are our country. We went for you guys so you don't have to go again."
Jones said he joined the service at the age of 18 — 66 years ago. The year was 1944.
"I was proud to go," he told the audience. "I soon found out, war is not fun. It's hell. It's blood, sweat and tears."
More than a dozen veterans from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm told their stories, and students Julia and Brian Shard told the audience about their father, Scott Shard, who is currently in Afghanistan serving in the U.S. Army.
"Every night when I lie safe in my bed, I pray he is safe there, too," Julia said. "I'm so grateful and proud."
The school's nurse, Cindy Gainey, told the students that she served as a medic in Germany in the 1970s.
"Women can serve, too," she said.
Several mothers attended the ceremony in fact, including a woman who flew a Marine helicopter for presidents before she was injured and spent 19 months in the hospital. Other veterans also told of being shot and injured while on active duty.
The school's Boy Scout troops conducted a flag ceremony, and Girl Scouts and Brownies sang a medley of patriotic songs for five of the military branches. The students also sang "America the Beautiful" and "Proud To Be An American."
Part of the festivities included a special welcome to a Harbor View family who became U.S. citizens just two weeks ago.
Atessa and Amir Markazi and their two sons, third-grader Faraz and sixth-grader Farbod, received a gift basket filled with red, white and blue items while the audience cheered.
"You just get born," Principal Charlene Metoyer told the students. "They had to take tests, and they are hard."
"It's been challenging for the past five years," Amir Markazi said. "But lucky us to have landed in such a beautiful city in the state of California."
Harbor View has held Veterans Day assemblies for about eight years, when former Principal Mellissia Christensen began to organize them to honor her uncle.
"This is our favorite day at Harbor View," Metoyer said. "We love our country and our veterans."
Water district directed to pay fines
Irvine Ranch Water District should pay $43,099 in fines for a spill that contaminated Buck Gully and Little Corona Beach with 26,725 gallons of untreated sewage this past summer, according to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The spill occurred July 2, when a pipe fitting cracked at a pump station in Newport Coast. For 10 hours, sewage flowed from the station along Buck Gully Creek to Little Corona Beach three miles away. Crews tried to protect the beach with gravel bags around the spill area, but the sewage continued to leak through, according to a letter sent this week to Irvine Ranch Water District officials.