LAKEWOOD, Wash. (11/9/2011) -- Since 1986, Tracey Lundquist
has invited Veterans from all branches of military service
to join her elementary school in their annual Veteran's
Celebration. She is as a charismatic, passionate, and
dedicated 51 year-old music and literature teacher who is
dedicated to honoring service members who have made personal
sacrifices while protecting America's freedom.
The 56th Army Band, Soldiers of Swing from Joint Base Lewis McChord, play music for Tracey Lundquist, a music and literature teacher,as she leads the choir during the 25th annual and final Veteran's Day Celebration
on Nov 3, 2011 at Tyee Park Elementary School. Lundquist has organized the celebration for 25 years. The program marks the end of a tradition at Tyee Park.
Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Teresa Adams
More than 500 veterans, service members, their families,
teachers and students gathered together at Tyee Park
Elementary School, Nov. 3, for the 25th annual and final
Veteran's Celebration. This year's theme was freedom. The
program marked the end of a tradition at this grade school
where big things come out of small places.
included performances by the 56th Army Band, Soldiers of
Swing, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Tyee Park's 2nd-5th
grade choir and the Lakes High School Studio Chamber Choir
among other performances including a soldier tap-dancing
with students. The music was strategically chosen with songs
covering the eras of World War I, Korean War, Vietnam,
Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the current wars in Iraq
Lundquist's passion for literature
and music is the driving force behind this magnetic fine
arts teacher's push to provide a unique learning experience
for her students, said Lundquist.
She is as
passionate about the learning process as she is about
ensuring her students actually internalize the subjects she
teaches. While reading with her kids about World War II, she
invited Pearl Harbor survivors and the Tuskegee Airmen to
talk to her students and brought history to life.
“The kids were just on the edge of their seats and they will
remember it forever,” said Lundquist.
is in her 28th year of teaching, began the veteran's
celebration 25 years ago by having her students perform
songs in the school's gymnasium as tribute to America's
To bring alive the learning experience for
her students, she took students to nearby JBLM to visit
soldiers, airmen and Marines and to perform at military
During one event, she met retired Col.
Joe Jackson, a Vietnam era Medal of Honor recipient. She
asked Jackson to be the guest speaker during the 1991
Veterans Day Celebration, fostering the community's growing
interest in her annual celebration, said Lunquist.
Over the years, her kids have been afforded many
opportunities to visit service members and have witnessed
firsthand what it means to serve. It is important to her
that her kids are taught all aspects of American history.
“It is like we have torn out the pages of history
books and wrapped them around the kids,” said Lundquist.
“They will carry these memories with them wherever they go
Throughout the years, Lundquist has made
several important friends within the military community.
Some of her many service member fans and speakers have
included long time attendee Gen. John Shalikashvili, retired
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who passed away in
July, retired Maj. Gen. Patrick Henry Brady, a Vietnam era
Medal of Honor recipient, retired Sgt. John D. Hawk, a Medal
of Honor recipient during WWII, and Robert E. Bush, a Navy
Hospital Corpsmen and World War II era Medal of Honor
recipient who passed away in November of 2005.
Towards the end of the program Lundquist made a special
tribute to her long-time friend Shalikashvili who she
lovingly referred to as “Chief” and “Shali” before Tyee
Park's school secretary Kim Blackner sang “We'll Meet
“For those of you who knew General Shali, I'm
sure you will relate when I say, words will never adequately
express the tremendous loss that we feel,” said Lundquist.
“Chief, this one's for you. Your song of life may have
ended, but its melody will linger on with us forever.”
Even though Lundquist announced that she will no longer
sponsor the Veteran's Day Celebration on the level she has,
she will continue to create her own classroom curriculum by
integrating academics with music. She has mixed emotions
about the ending of this era.
“I went through the
seven stages of grief,” said Lundquist. “It has been such an
important part of my life. I have met amazing, wonderful,
absolutely incredible people who have changed my life and I
am sad knowing that I won't have the opportunities to be in
their presence on a yearly basis anymore.”
years, this celebration has been Tyee Park's way of thanking
our military, both active and retired, for serving our
country,” said Lundquist. “Many of our veterans do not
consider themselves heroes, but in our eyes, they are
More photos available in frame below
By Army Staff Sgt. Teresa Adams
28th Public Affairs
Comment on this article