Sammamish children sing, dance to honor veterans

November 16, 2010

By Christopher Huber

Members of the Sunny Hills choir wave flags as they sing for the crowd in the school’s multipurpose room. By Christopher Huber

World War II veteran Phil Sulman, always says he’s got 195 stories to tell for his 195 days of combat.

Sulman, 85, a grandfather to Haley Morris, 10, and Nicole Morris, 7, of Sunny Hills Elementary School, served in the Battle of the Bulge as a private first class in the Army’s 104th Timberwolf Infantry Division, he said. He landed with his unit in Cherbourg, France, just days after D-Day and fought through France, Holland, Belgium and Germany for six months straight.

“We knew we had a job to do,” he said.

Sulman was one of a handful of military veterans who attended the Sunny Hills Veterans Day commemoration assembly Nov. 9.

Schools across Issaquah and Sammamish celebrated national service and honored veterans Nov. 9 and 10 in various gatherings and activities. Students at Endeavour Elementary recognized veterans by each bringing a star with a relative’s name, rank and branch of military on it to hang around the school.

At Sunny Hills, Jay Rodne, state representative for the 5th Legislative District, wore his Marine dress blues and spoke about what military service meant to him. He serves as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and commands a 1,200-Marine reserve battalion. He was deployed during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and saw action in Somalia in 1992 and 1993. He explained a typical day in the Marine Corps to the young students and entertained various other questions.

“You do lots and lots of running,” he said.

The Sunny Hills choir also sang patriotic songs as parents joined in.

Sulman also explained his time in the military. He was part of some landmark battles and helped liberate Europeans from German occupation and re-establish supply routes throughout the continent, he said. His unit liberated the city of Cologne, Germany, as well as a concentration camp in Nordhausen, Germany.

“Our division was one of the most well-known divisions in the European theater. We fought with Patton’s army,” he said. “We were known as night fighters.”

Reflecting on his two and a half years of active-duty service during World War II, Sulman said he didn’t really think much of it once he got home.

“After I was discharged, it was really forgotten,” Sulman said, but that was not always the case. “A lot of guys were really affected by the war.”

He did get involved, decades later, in reuniting fellow unit members through the division’s association, he said.

Sulman said Veterans Day is an important way to keep America’s youth informed. Although the school assemblies are required, they help students understand a little bit more about those who went before them.

“I think it’s wonderful. I don’t think children are taught enough about the war,” Sulman said. “I think it’s very important that they know what veterans went through, and what it means to fight for your country.”

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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