School shows support for troops

Saturday, September 3, 2005

The bulletin board in the main hallway at Eagle Ridge Christian School is covered with snapshots of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and a plea for prayers on their behalf.

On Friday, students showed up wearing red polo shirts as part of an effort to show support for the troops.

The small Christian school plans to have "Red Friday" at the end of every school week throughout the year, except for the last Friday of each month when students can wear a school T-shirt and jeans.

But the war on terror isn't just about patriotism to the 186 students, preschool through high school, who attend Eagle Ridge. For them, it's a family affair.

Seven of the school's parents have served in Afghanistan or Iraq in recent years. Four have returned home from military duty. Three others are still there.

Parent and school administrative assistant Sarah Hess' husband, Brad, is in the Army Reserve. He was deployed to Iraq in January as part of a transportation unit from the Kansas City area.

"You cannot have too much prayer protection. We pray for our troops daily," Hess said.

Students admit it's easy to wear red since that is the school color. But students say it's more than just a feel-good stunt.

"I thought it would be cool to show support for the troops," said high school freshman Nikki Woodall, 14, of Cape Girardeau. "I just lost a cousin over there," she said quietly.

Her cousin, Army Sgt. Robert Davis of Jackson, was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan last month.

Students like freshman Josh Wiseman, 14, of Jackson take the war personally. That's because students know some of the soldiers overseas.

"Being from a small school, we all are kind of tighter together," he said of the students.

Fourth-grader Kaitlyn White, 9, who lives in the Cape Girardeau area, likes Red Friday.

"You want to wear it to support the troops and let them know you care," she said.

Hess said students increasingly understand the hardships soldiers face in the Middle East. "It's starting to hit home," she said.

335-6611, extension 123

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