WILLMAR -- Willmar's elementary schools continued their tradition of honoring veterans this year.
Students at Kennedy and Roosevelt schools ate lunch with veterans Thursday and Friday. More than 100 veterans attended each celebration.
The veterans represented more than 50 years of history and every branch of the service.
The tradition started about five years ago at Kennedy and then spread to Roosevelt.
The highlight of the celebration at Roosevelt this year was a video of the school's 160 third-graders singing a song for the veterans.
Principal Nathan Cox introduced the video, which panned across the students' faces as they sang a song of thanks to the veterans and honored them for their bravery and gallant service.
Cox thanked the veterans for coming to the lunch and pointed out the red, white and blue table decorations, which were made by students.
"It was so cute," said Pvt. Mimi Castro of Willmar after she watched the video. Castro came to lunch in uniform.
Castro joined the Minnesota National Guard in March and is attached to an Appleton unit. She was the guest of her relative Seth Wolf, a second-grader, and joined his sister Whitney, one of the children in the video, during another lunch period.
Fourth-grader Emily Morris ate a lunch of scalloped potatoes, chicken strips and orange sections with her dad, Tony Morris of Willmar.
"He comes every year," Emily said. "My brothers are both in the Army now."
Tony Morris served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1988 to 1992 and served in the Gulf War. Morris said his two sons are both ROTC students in college. One is a senior at St. John's University and the other is a freshman at the University of Minnesota.
"I appreciate it so much," he said of the annual lunch, and he likes to see the schools acknowledge Veterans Day.
Eric Glesne joined his son Daegan for lunch. Glesne surprised his son on Veterans Day two years ago when he came home unexpectedly from Iraq where he had served with the National Guard.
He enjoys the annual lunch and seeing veterans from the past, too, he said. "Waiting in the hall, I wanted to say, 'thank you,' to some of the older people who were in Vietnam, Korea."