SYRACUSE -- When it comes to learning about the American flag, textbooks are good, but real-life service members are even better.
On Oct. 11, five Airmen from Hill Air Force Base's 367th Training Support Squadron taught a group of fifth-graders from Bluff Ridge Elementary School in Syracuse all they know about the flag they fight for.
Tech. Sgt. Michael Toal, Staff Sgt. Hazam Peralta, Staff Sgt. Farris Skaff, Staff Sgt. Travis Brosseau and Airman 1st Class Daniel Callahan volunteered their time to discuss the significance of the flag and its history and to show the students how to properly care for and fold Old Glory.
"It would be pretty easy to take out a book and teach the kids some of these things," said Stacey Clark, an office assistant at Bluff Ridge.
"But these Airmen provide a completely different essence. The kids absorb the information so much more when it comes from the service members."
Principal Traci Robbins said the demonstration is ideal, not only because many students at the school have ties to Hill, but also because the flag is part of the fifth-grade curriculum.
"These kids are starting to get into American history -- things like the flag, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence," she said.
"When they learn it from someone who has just returned from Afghanistan, well, you can't get much more authentic than that."
As part of the demonstration, the Airmen also fielded questions from the kids on a variety of topics, from "Which war was the biggest?" to "Have you ever been shot?"
"Thankfully, no, I haven't," Peralta, who just returned from Afghanistan, answered to the latter question.
Toal, who has served in the Air Force Honor Guard for seven years, said the Airmen enjoy teaching the kids what they know.
"Coming here with these kids is definitely a great change of pace for us," he said. "We get a chance to really see some impact by helping kids learn a little bit about the flag."
Bluff Ridge fifth-graders Lukas Tibbets and Deven Norton said that, after hearing from the squadron, they were even contemplating a career in the Air Force.
"Me and my friends always like playing Army and stuff like that," Deven said, "so I was pretty happy these guys came to our school."
For details on community events performed by the Hill Honor Guard, call 801-777-3967 or go to www.75thforcesupport.comââ .