'Pilgrims' and parents enjoy a meal at Hanau
November 25, 2004
HANAU, Germany — Vanessa Hranilovic bought her Pilgrim costume on the Internet, while the black hat atop Joshua Harlan’s head was of the low-tech variety.
Made of construction paper, the headdress came together “very frantically this morning, at 7 o’clock,” Joshua’s mom, Kathy Harlan, confessed.
On the day before Thanksgiving, third-graders at Argonner Elementary School sat down with their parents and classmates for a feast. The menu included turkey, stuffing, potatoes, assorted vegetables, breads and dessert.
“They have some pretty good chow here,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bruce Millsap said as he polished off his meal.
The feast marked the culmination of an extended section on the earliest European settlers — the people of the Mayflower — and the many challenges they faced, such as disease or relations with Native Americans.
“Things weren’t easy,” said teacher Barbara Luenser, whose class includes Vanessa, Joshua and Mekayla Millsap.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on life’s blessings. For 1st Armored Division families, there is much to be thankful for this year, given that a fair number of them spent last Thanksgiving in Iraq.
Bruce Millsap was injured 13 months ago by an improvised explosive device. He said he’s happy just to be alive, and to share this classroom experience with daughter Mekayla, whom he called his “little sweetheart.”
Down the hallway, in Lydia Youngman’s classroom, other soldiers were expressing similar sentiments. Some wore paper Indian headbands, with an accompanying feather. It was easy to tell that there was no other place they would rather be.
Staff Sgt. Doug Danley, 320th Engineer Company, spent Thanksgiving away from his family in 2001 and 2002. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Bill Staniewicz missed the last two.
Staniewicz, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, said he’s thankful “just to hang around and feast” with his family.
Joining him at this feast was his wife, Dana, and son, Danny. The 9-year-old regaled those around the miniature table with pilgrim tidbits he learned in school. They included: the buckle on the hat is a myth; kids hunted when they were 6; the water supply on the Mayflower became so foul kids had to drink beer; and the Mayflower was a cargo vessel, not a passenger ship.
The kids seemed to genuinely like the pilgrim lesson.
“I’m thankful for having a wonderful teacher like Ms. Youngman,” said 8-year-old Jordan Danley.
Next door, teacher Martha Gregg smiled as she took in the scene.
“It’s nice to have the families together,” she said.