More than 700 students from All Saints Episcopal School in Tyler stood on a hillside, waving small American flags and wearing red, white and blue or camouflage.
As the military men and women descended the bus, they shook hands with Randal Brown, All Saints' head of school, and took in the scene around them.
Although Sunday's rain dampened one of that day's scheduled activities, it didn't dampen the spirits of the men and women participating nor those volunteering this weekend.
“Despite mother nature being against us, it went great,” Texas Wounded Warrior co-chairman Ron Nash said of the weekend.
About 16 veterans stopped by All Saints Episcopal School on the fourth and final day of a weekend devoted to them. More veterans participated in the event, but some already had left.
At the school, students and administrators presented a short program to show their appreciation.
Head of School Randal Brown, a major in the Texas Army National Guard and an Iraq war veteran, welcomed the veterans and wounded warriors and thanked them for their service. He then turned his attention to the students and told them about the veterans standing in front of them.
“They were called to fight for their country in far off places like Iraq, Afghanistan and other places,” he said. “However, they were called on to do more than serve their country. They have sacrificed for it, returning home wounded and scarred and yet determined to get on with their lives.
“We are here to thank them for their service and to help them to go on and pursue productive lives,” he said.
Army Spc. Marcus Tyler, a 2010 Iraq war veteran, thanked the school for its support.
“This is completely awesome to have such a big group of strangers welcome us as if we're family …,” he said. “I mean I really can't say anything about how good it feels to have someone here that actually cares. I've never, out of the seven years that I've been in the military, I've never had a welcome like this.”
The school's Heart2Heart choir performed the Armed Forces Medley with the wounded warriors coming forward for their service song.
Robert Rhodes, a Texas Wounded Warrior Foundation board member, presented a plaque to Brown in appreciation for the school's support.
This is the second year All Saints has participated in the event. The Brook Hill School in Bullard also participated with veterans visiting that campus Friday.
“Thank you for taking the time away from your classes this morning to honor these brave men and women in the military,” Rhodes said to the All Saints school community. “You do not know them personally, but they have fought and sustained injuries in defense of our country and in the fight for freedom for our nation.
“We also honor at this time countless other men and women who have given their lives on your behalf,” he said. “Always remember what they have done for you.”
Fifth-grader Brogan McCreery, 10, said it was enjoyable because he had never experienced anything like this at the school he previously attended.
“I think it's amazing,” he said. “It's really special for wounded warriors to come to our school and take their time out of their daily schedule to see us and for us to (say) thank you.”
Sixth-grader Jake Haggerton, 11, comes from a family of veterans and said he wants to serve in the Marine Corps.
“I think it was really special that we got to meet all of them and see how much they've gone through and that they've given up some of the years of their life to serve and protect our country,” Jake said.
Classmate Anne White, 12, said her father, grandfather and a family friend served in the Army.
“It was special to me seeing how they fought for us, that they actually risked their lives serving for us,” Anne said.
Although the students said what they did was small, the effect on the veterans was big.
“I'm kind of at a loss for words,” Army Sgt. Derek Kolb, 28, of Houston, said. “It means more to us than these young people will ever know.”
Kolb sustained major injuries after being struck by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq from 2005-06. He has had 25 surgeries since that time.
He said he was most moved by the students.
“Coming out and having kids that don't know anything about you look at you in a way that just makes your heart swell,” he said, is touching.
After visiting with students on the All Saints campus, the veterans proceeded to Willow Brook Country Club where they played in a pro-am tournament.