Copper Mill Elementary students honored veterans Nov. 11 at their annual program with performances by the choir and orchestra led by teacher Amy Pan.

Some of the children’s parents who are active in the military or veterans attended.

Winners of the school’s essay contest, “How I Honor Veterans,” were awarded certificates.

“It should come as no surprise that the two winners, fifth-grader Michaela Doiron and sixth-grader Sarah Henry, have parents in the military,” said Dwayne Chatelain, dean of students.

Doiron’s father, Kevin Doiron, and Henry’s mother, Gina Boring, are both Navy veterans.

The students were assigned the essays by their social studies teachers. Both essays will be sent to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary and entered into a district youth essay contest, Chatelain said.

The program’s guest speaker, retired Army Maj. Sheldon Perkins, served 20 years with the 769th Engineer Battalion, Baton Rouge.

He toured Afghanistan in 2002-03, earning a Bronze Star.

Today, Perkins works in the Criminal Investigations Division for the Louisiana State Police, Troop A.

“I know some of you (kids) wake up in the mornings not wanting to go to school. When I think about Veterans Day, I think about serving in Afghanistan and seeing kids your age and younger working to earn their families money,” Perkins told the students. “Their job was chopping rocks all day, and they might earn a total of $10. When I saw that, it made me appreciate the things I have taken for granted, so when you tell someone ‘Happy Veterans Day,’ really mean it. Know what it is you’re thanking them for —the sacrifices they’ve made for your freedoms.”

Perkins said he was lucky: He returned from Afghanistan with all 223 soldiers from his battalion. No lives were lost, and only one soldier suffered a major injury while clearing land mines.

“I didn’t have a veterans license plate before, but I do now, thanks to an elderly vet I met one day at lunch who scolded me for not having one of those plates,” Perkins said. “I will always remember him. He reminded me that I should always be proud, always be grateful.”

At the conclusion of the program, Copper Mill Principal Keisha Thomas presented a monetary gift to Sunny Senft, first vice president of the Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana, Chapter 1.

Copper Mill’s donation will assist the Blue Star Moms’ efforts in sending care packages to troops overseas.