A simple advertisement in the local newspaper provided a kernel of inspiration for Karyn and Bill Marshall, the now-retired educators who started the Adopt-A-Vet program at Heights Elementary School in Texas City.
“They were looking for someone to help place flags at the veterans cemetery in Santa Fe over Memorial Day,” said Karyn Marshall, who was a third-grade teacher at the time. “It was in May, and I knew we would be done with testing.”
“I spoke with Frank Furleigh at the La Marque Veterans of Foreign Wars, and our principal, about doing this as a field trip,” she said. “He thought it was a great idea.”
Before the outing, Furleigh went to the school and taught the third-graders about cemetery etiquette and where to place each flag.
“The cemetery is so beautiful with big trees and Spanish Moss,” Karyn Marshall said. “We organized the kids into groups and they started putting the flags on the graves. It was inspiring to watch them be so respectful of what they were doing.”
Because the field trip was such a success, the couple decided to seek funding for a more substantial program that would teach children about the sacrifices veterans make for the nation, she said.
A grant from Texas City Independent School District’s Foundation for the Future provided seed money for annual events including Meet Me For Lunch in September, a Veterans Day assembly in November, the Birthday Bash in February and the Memorial Day flag placement in May.
The program is designed to educate schoolchildren in the country’s rich traditions of patriotism and also to teach them about the sacrifices veterans make.
Though the Marshalls are both now retired, the program remains in place and is popular with teachers and students.
“We want the kids to know, if it weren’t for our veterans, we wouldn’t have what we have,” Karyn Marshall said. “Somebody has to teach the next generation to respect our vets, that’s really what it’s about.”