HARLINGEN – Children throughout the Harlingen school district held ceremonies yesterday to honor the nation’s veterans.

At Austin Elementary, children sat on the floor of the gymnasium and waved flags as veterans were honored with songs and speeches and the folding of flags.

Uniformed members of American Legion Post 205 sat in one row of seats as children read poems and expressed their appreciation.

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell also spoke, gesturing toward the veterans seated before him.

“We don’t think about what they have done to contribute to our lives in this free society and this country,” he said.

He also pointed out the men and women who serve in battle are often very young, recent high school graduates. He cited as an example his father who’d commanded a submarine chaser in the South Pacific during World War II. His father was 19 years old at the time.

“They are the ones that go out and protect our country and sacrifice their lives, their limbs, their well being,” he said, turning also to acknowledge more veterans seated nearby.

Eddie Villafranco, commander of American Legion Post 205, appreciated the recognition.

“It was fantastic,” he said. “The representation we had to honor the veterans was great. The whole staff and the kids recognized the veterans. They accepted us. It was an honor to be there. They made us feel at home.”

School Nurse Monica Blount felt the ceremony was good for the students.

“It teaches them to love the country they live in and to learn to respect the flag and what it stands for,” she said.