CRESTVIEW — Derek Haws was making up for lost time with daughters Rebecka, 6, and Keyleigh, 7, as the trio ate breakfast on Friday at Bob Sikes Elementary School.
"It's nice to spend time with my kids," he said, wearing his U.S. Army uniform. "They have to put up with a lot, with me being gone."
See Bob Sikes Elementary School "Bring a Vet to School Day" photos>>
Similarly, Vietnam veteran Rick Martell said he appreciated the school's "Bring a Vet to School Day," which allowed him to spend quality time with grandson Gaige Cook, 7.
About 250 veterans attended the event, which included breakfast, story-swapping and patriotic music. The Patriotic Pups, a school club for students with parents serving in the military, volunteered.
It all left an impression, Martell said.
"When I was serving, they didn't treat us like this," he said.
Club members Sophia Sullivan, 7, and Carly Hayes, 8, said they appreciated the chance to honor veterans.
"I am happy to serve all of these parents; they are like my parents," Carly said.
Veteran Jesse Ladner — invited by his sons Owen and James McPherson — said seeing children celebrate Veterans Day is rewarding.
"It makes you feel good," he said. "I personally feel that it is a greater honor ... the children showing respect, than anything ... like receiving a medal."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.