Retired Sgt. Maj. Ralph Gardner, of the 40 & 8 organization, shows Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary third-graders, from left, Kylee Murphree, Emily Shultz, Ariel Draper, Dante Goggans and Jenica Monegro how to properly fold a flag during a visit to the school Tuesday in Copperas Cove.

Members of the 40 & 8 shared Veterans Day lessons and flag etiquette with two Copperas Cove elementary schools throughout the week and donated 2,800 U.S. flags to students. A third school will be visited next week.

“This is our way of fostering participation and commemorating Veterans Day with the students,” said Donald Taylor, a member of the 40 & 8.

The 40 & 8 wants young children to understand the meaning behind the national holiday as well as take pride in their county, Taylor said, adding the group has several scheduled assemblies, programs, events and school parades.

On Tuesday, Taylor visited with Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary third-grade students where he explained Veterans Day is a time to recognize anyone who has served in the U.S. military and not just those who served overseas, fought in wars, or died in the line of duty.

He also told the students about the history of the national holiday and how it came to be declared on Nov. 11 to coincide with the signing of the armistice which ended World War I.

Students also learned from Taylor that the Veterans Day National Ceremony is held every Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. in Arlington National Cemetery with a wreath-laying outside the Tomb of the Unknowns.

After the assembly, the school’s class council learned about raising, lowering, folding and carrying the U.S. and Texas flags.

Ralph Gardner, another member of the 40 & 8, explained how the flag should not touch the ground, how to fold it into a triangle and that it should be flown above state flags. He also told the students when and how the flag should be flown.

“It is important to respect the flag because it is a symbol of our ancestors and history,” said Nicole Harris, a 10-year-old fifth-grader who attended the flag training.

On Wednesday, the group returned to Fairview/Miss Jewell for another assembly. The group also will conduct a parade and an assembly today on the campus. On Thursday, the 40 & 8 were at Clements/Parsons Elementary School for similar programs and will visit Hettie Halstead Elementary School on Nov. 16.

The group delivered 2,800 flags to the three schools so each student could have their own flag when participating in the parades and programs.

Taylor, who served for 22 years, said he hopes the 40 & 8 programs will teach the students that Veterans Day is more than just a day off from school.

“It wasn’t until I was older that I finally realized there was more to it than just a day off from school,” he said of his own experience with the holiday.

The 40 & 8 is a national civic organization for all honorably discharged veterans and current military personnel. It is not required that they have served in combat.

As an organization, its local and national branches support child welfare, youth sports and nursing programs.

The organization gets its name from the boxcars that were used during World War I to transport troops. Train cars during the time would be marked with a 40/8 symbol to note that the car was either caring 40 soldiers or eight horses.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7474

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