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Anne Arundel delegate proposes giving students off on Veterans Day

Del. Ted Sophocleus said the meaning of Veterans Day really struck him the first time he visited a veterans' cemetery and saw the rows and rows of flags and graves.

"To me, they're our heroes who made the supreme sacrifice for us," the four-term delegate from Linthicum said. "I think it's a very valuable experience for children to see first hand."

That's why he's hoping his legislation to make Veterans Day a day off for school students will pass in the General Assembly this session. HB 0148 is scheduled to be heard in the House of Delegates on Feb. 5.

Many schools celebrate Veterans Day with assemblies and guest speakers, but students have not experienced the "real meaning" of the federal holiday, Sophocleus said.

"Parents are off usually, but kids are in school. I'm not sure they get the full impact of what Veterans Day is."

He said if students have off on Veterans Day, schools could grant service volunteering hours for visiting veterans' services or programs.

"I don't think it should be just another day in school," Sophocleus said.

Sophocleus is not a veteran himself, but both of his brothers and several of his friends were in the military. He said he has no idea whether there will be any opposition to the bill, but if there is, "let them explain any opposition to honoring veterans."

"On the floor of the legislature, when someone is introduced as a veteran, they all get standing ovations," Sophocleus said.

All Anne Arundel County delegates are co-sponsors of the bill, as well as delegates from Baltimore City and Baltimore, Prince George's, Frederick, Charles, Harford, Calvert, Worcester, Dorchester and Wicomico counties.

"Banks and businesses are closed," Del. Pam Beidle, D-Linthicum, said. "County offices are closed."

Beidle said she expects the only potential roadblock to come from the county school system.

"I think it's a holiday that we need to celebrate out of respect for our veterans," said Beidle, who is married to a Coast Guardsman.

House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Pasadena, said there are many opportunities in this county to recognize fallen soldiers and veterans. Every year, a flag is raised in a memorial service on Mountain Road in Pasadena.

"At the service I've been able to meet many heroes from World War II and more recent American wars, and I've learned so much about them and their sacrifice," Kipke, a co-sponsor of the bill, said. "I want to make sure kids are able to attend those celebrations."

If passed, students would have the next Veterans Day off. The measure would be effective July 1.

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