All Hands on Deck


by Jay Varner, perimeter school teacher

Every November Uncle Sam drafts our little school into service. Many of you have attended one or more of our Veterans Day programs and have seen the hard work and preparation, but few know how many soldiers are involved. In the same way it takes a population the size of a small city to operate an aircraft carrier; it takes a sizable population to make our program what it is. Each grade level is mustered into service to ensure smooth sailing and make our VIPs feel welcomed and appreciated. Our school is pressed into service in the following ways:

  • The Siegfried Line — First & second graders preform joint operations welcoming our guests at all entry ways into Camp Perimeter.

  • Support from the Home Front — Third graders write personal letters of thanks and encouragement to veterans for their past service. Fourth & fifth graders often have to be drafted into service for this mission since guests outnumber our third-grade personnel 4 to 1.

  • The Marine Corp Choir — All fourth grade plebes spend two months in Sargent Langston’s boot camp preparing to sing the Armed Service Medley like they mean it!

  • CyOps — Fifth grade special operations are involved in covert activity specifically designed to undermine and expose enemy activity — also known as praying. Months of preparation are constantly being presented to the Commander-in-Chief for His blessing on our mission.

  • Base Camp — Our program is a lot for an old soldier to take in, so a little R&R is in order (Refreshments & Reminiscing with old comrades). This vital task is assigned to the sixth-grade cadets. They can be seen performing a number of duties: decorating the mess hall, distributing c-rations (cookies), and providing a comfortable place to rest one's boots. This task may seem menial, but sixth-grade cadets are in training for greater roles in later years.

  • Medal of Honor Ceremony — Some of our guests have gone beyond the call of duty, which requires special recognition. The seventh-grade corps oversee this task. They target veterans of noteworthy service for VIP treatment following the main program. These receptions are exciting for both veterans and civilians alike and often extend late into the day’s activities, living up to the Marine motto: “first in and last out.”

  • USO — What would service in the military be like without a little entertainment? This task is assigned to our eighth-grade, soon-to-be “West Point” graduates. We have invested a lot of money in these cadets and want to see them in action before the caissons go rolling out. Assignments range from playing instruments, singing songs, performing skits, providing artwork, and ushering.

  • Baby Seals — All pre-first and kindergarten class platoons attend the program each year. They are too young to perform any duties, but all good seals in training start with mental preparation and vision in order to stoke them for future service.

Every military operation has an objective, and our's is no different. Our mission has three:

  1. Honor — to make our guest veterans feel appreciated for their service. The Scriptures say, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, especially when you have the power to act” (Proverbs 3:27).

  2. Outreach — to bring glory to God’s name and make Him known among the lost. Although this is a Veterans Day celebration, we want to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16) and be vessels for the Good News.

  3. Legacy — Raising the next generation requires teaching our children the traditions of honor and duty toward God and country (Matthew 28:20).

So this November when Uncle Sam calls your little soldier into service, remind them of these things.

In His Service,

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff