FAIRFIELD — Fifty-nine children from Laurel Creek Elementary School dressed in red, white and blue went Thursday to convalescent facilities in Fairfield to make an early Memorial Day visit and sing “America the Beautiful,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “American Tears.”
Several people in wheelchairs at La Mariposa Nursing & Rehab on Travis Boulevard were tapping their fingers to the music as third-graders sang “You’re the emblem of the land I love” from composer George M. Cohan’s 1906 song about the American flag.
Austyn Knox, 9, said at the Greenfield Care Center on Travis Boulevard that a fast reward comes with the performance for residents.
“I like to see them happy and smiling,” she said. And, Knox said, “I love to sing about America.”
Veronica Herrera, PTA president and crossing guard at Laurel Creek Elementary, said some of the residents at the facilities don’t have many visitors and the children’s arrival is a big deal.
“They love us coming,” Herrera said.
The visits, said Donna Beard, activity director at Greenfield Care Center, have been a treat for residents.
Laurel Creek Elementary teacher Jerry Bernhardt recalled how he noticed when his in-laws went into a convalescent home and he brought his children to visit, that other residents would brighten up around the youths.
“The residents would light up in a way no adult could cause them to smile,” said the teacher known as Mr. B.
That’s the origin of the program that for a decade has brought children from Laurel Creek Elementary in the Fairfield-Suisun School District to care facilities for Valentine’s Day and Halloween as well as to mark Memorial Day.
Kathy Marianno, a trustee for the school district, said after the children’s singing at Greenfield Care Center that she noticed how residents reacted, even if only by moving a finger to the music.
“It was just amazing,” Marianno said.
Children sang “American Tears” and its lyrics, “For the heroes. For the patriots. For the soldiers. For all the pioneers. I will always be an American. And I’ll always cry American tears.”
Tammy Hall, a volunteer at Laurel Creek Elementary where her daughter Sara Snyder teaches, said she saw some tears from patients during the children’s visit to Fairfield Post-Acute Rehab on Travis Boulevard, where they went from room to room to sing.
“I was, too,” Hall said of crying.
Eight-year-old Alyson Rojas sang at La Mariposa where her parents Laura and Sandro Rojas joined the visit and watched.
“It’s a very big deal for her,” Laura Rojas said of her daughter singing “Always and Forever.”
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.