(Photo by Leonna Heuring, Staff)
SIKESTON -- As the nation remembered 9-11 last week, third graders in Amanda Grossius' class at Matthews Elementary in Sikeston were busy scribing postcards to U.S. soldiers stationed overseas.
"It was just a postcard to remember Sept. 11, and we only spent 15 minutes on it," Grossier said about the project.
But the result was 22 inspiring and thoughtful postcards set to be mailed no later than today.
One student, Evan Irwin, wrote: "You are a true hero and risking your life for me and a lot of other people. That's true bravery and we salute the fallen soldiers and wounded soldiers that have carried our flag through terrible times."
Grossius said she knows Evan does high-quality work, but she was impressed by the figurative language he used, particularly with the part about carrying flags through terrible times and when he wrote: "But I want you to remember God is always with you so let freedom unleash."
"Evan came up to me and showed me his card, and I said, 'Evan, that makes me want to cry. That's so moving.' Then he got excited and said, 'Can I go show so and so?' ... He brought it out to recess with him and showed the other teachers," Grossius said.
The first-year teacher was so moved by Evan's postcard, she immediately called her family who has many members serving in all branches of the military.
"My family was all together, and they didn't believe me," Grossius recalled about reading them Evan's card. "They said, "He took it home. His mom helped him with that.' He didn't. He did it in class. He didn't have time to look it up anywhere."
Grossius said all of her students did a great job writing and decorating their postcards.
"We did brainstorm words we might use such as freedom and country and words related to remembering 9-11 and the troops.
Remembering events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the service men and women was something very important to Grossius, she said.
"I did talk to them a little bit about what it meant to me and how important remembering (the attacks) was," Grossius said. "All of my mom's brothers and sisters -- she was one of seven -- served in the military."
Her students were little when the 9-11 attacks happened so Grossius explained it to them, although most already knew what happened, she said.
"Many of them said they saw it (clips of 9-11) on TV that morning. There are a lot of books on it but not so much in the history textbooks yet," Grossius said.
When a soldier opens the card she created, Montanah Sullivan hopes it puts a big smile on their face, she said.
"My card was about soldiers and how they saved our country to keep us free and didn't make us die," Montanah said.
Makiyla Jones said she hopes soldiers will be excited when they see her card, which she colored in red, white and blue.
"My postcard is about soldiers saving Iraq and fighting for our country and make us have freedom," the third grader said.
Grossius knows other teachers in the district and even surrounding school districts conducted special 9-11 lessons and projects to commemorate the anniversary, but she said she feels especially proud of her students.
"They could feel it was important to me," Grossius said. "They just ran with it."