A Veterans Day program was held Monday morning at Shackelford Elementary for students, staff and the community.

The program began with the pledge to the U.S. and Texas flags led by members of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and singing of the national anthem led by the Shackelford Showstoppers, the fourth- and fifth-grade honor choir.

U.S. Marine Sgt. David McClain, husband to fourth-grade teacher Kristin McClain, then addressed the group. McClain, who has served with the Marines for eight years, is on active duty and recently returned from Iraq.

McClain talked about his experiences while in Iraq.

“The children weren’t in school and people were afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation,” said McClain, who told of how it warmed his heart to give soccer balls and candy to Iraqi children.

McClain said he and others stationed with him in Iraq received letters from friends and family, as well as Shackelford students, while there.

“The letters we received from this school meant so much. Thank you for your time,” McClain said. “I’d also like to thank anyone who ever donated items, sent letters or sent care packages (to Iraq).”

Discussing the hardships and difficulties he faced while in Iraq, McClain said, “I’d do it again. My family and my neighbors were safe. My kids were in school and they could play.”

The Shackelford Showstoppers performed “My Country ’tis of Thee” and principal Nancy Edwards recognized veterans in attendance by asking them to stand. She then asked spouses of those in or retired from the military to stand. Next she asked for all those who had parents, children, cousins and friends in the military to stand and so on until almost everyone in the room was on his or her feet.

Edwards then asked everyone to stand and share a moment of silence, followed by Waxahachie High School student Matt Neal playing “Taps” on the trumpet.

Edwards introduced staff member Sharon Fults, who volunteered to organize the Veterans Day program. Fults, whose husband recently retired from the U.S. Navy, created and maintains the “Wall of Honor” that displays photos of family members and friends who have or are serving in the military. Fults is the coordinator for “anything military-related” in the way of projects at the school, Edwards said.

Afterward, a small reception with refreshments was held for the veterans in attendance.

“If we continue to be a country that enjoys privileges and freedom, I think it’s important that our children know that it comes at a price,” Edwards said, noting the large number of students with family members in the military. “(The students) need to understand that families are separated and some don’t come home and it’s in order for them to be able to enjoy their families and their freedom.”