Veterans treated to breakfast with New Bern students

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NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - There are nearly 19 million veterans in the United States and, on Saturday, our country will pause and honor those who signed up to protect this country.

Schools across the east have been celebrating the day early with events to honor local veterans.

Students at Ben Quinn Elementary School not only invited their friends and family members who served our country, but they also welcomed veterans from one of New Bern's assisted living facilities for breakfast and a special thank you on Thursday.

"Thank you for your service" is a five-word phrase that some don't hear enough, but Veterans Day is a day the U.S. sets aside to show appreciation for those who stood up and fought for our country, our freedoms, and our safety.

"We're really here today just to honor our heroes, to remember their achievements, their courage, and their direction and we had a special thank you today for their sacrifices," says Principal Curtis Gatlin.

On Thursday morning, the school was filled with students and veterans from the local community for a special breakfast.

"My father had a much different experience, he served in Vietnam and came back to not so much fanfare, so to see students and just our communities appreciating the military and what we do, it really makes me feel great," says Jerry Simmons, the principal of New Bern High School and a veteran.

Simmons, who retired from the Army National Guard, spoke at the morning event to the students about what it means to be a veteran and why it's important for them to appreciate all those who have served and currently serve in our nation's military.

"Never too young to start developing that patriotism," he says.

Cards, hand painted flags, and songs were just some of the things students created in honor of their special guests.

"We want them to know we love them and we thank them so much," Gatlin tells WITN.

The students were able to give all of the veterans that came special notes that said thank you and the vets that came also got to take home a book called Hero Dad, which is all about military parents.

We have a full list of all of the different Veterans Day events that are going on across Eastern Carolina in the link posted on the right side of this page.