Drawing on powerful symbolism of strength anchored in flexibility, children at Reeces Creek Elementary School added sand donated from around the world to the base of their school’s flagpole.
In a ceremony in front of the school June 4, students read biographies of soldiers past and present and honored them as they knelt at the base of the re-installed flagpole to deposit the sand bits.
School principal Michelle Taylor said she’s learned a lot from years of construction at the school on Stan Schlueter Loop in fast growing southwest Killeen.
This year, continual construction has added classrooms and office space and the school will soon receive new library space as well.
In one of numerous “mini-lessons” on construction, she explained that flagpoles are placed in a ground sleeve surrounded by cement and encased in sand.
Describing what she found out from Cloud Construction managers, the sand allows flexibility so the pole will bend and not snap in two as storms sweep past.
“The sand lets it sway,” she said. “I thought that was a beautiful message.”
In January, she talked with Cloud Construction staff and her own school staff about the possibility of bringing in sand from around the world to add to the flagpole encasement.
Her friend, Todd Kunders, a KISD elementary school principal and former U.S. Marine, offered sand from the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima.
“I knew we should honor the military with this,” Taylor said, explaining how a simple idea turned into a profound exercise. “Our parents deploy again and again and make such a sacrifice.”
Reeces Creek’s adopt-a-school partner, the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was quick to lend support as well. As word of the project spread, bits of sand came from remains of the Berlin Wall and from New York, Iraq, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Florida, Bermuda, Israel, the White Sands Missile Range, New Jersey, Japan, Korea and Texas.
At the flagpole re-dedication students poured donated sand a little at a time into the space around the ground sleeve encasing the new flagpole.
Each sand donation represented “a story behind the sand” that Taylor said was an emotional reminder of a military community leaning into its resilient strength.
“Our influence extends beyond our state and nation,” the principal said, listing the countries her students have come from and moved to through military moves.
“I’m absolutely blown away,” said Capt. Thomas Herman, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment rear detachment commander. “I’m impressed with these kids and with the stories behind this ceremony. It’s humbling for us to be included in the history.”