School revamps patriotism, welcomes back graduated student.
This morning, the students of Santa Clarita Christian School
(SCCS) lined Luther Avenue
waving flags and cheering on cars as they passed. But it was one car in particular
they were waiting for; the one carrying former student and current Marine
Corporal Jeff Phillips.
Jeff graduated from SCCS in 2005, and enlisted in the Marines
in 2006. He recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq.
Once Jeff was on campus, his family was led to the front of
a packed assembly as the Golden Valley Color Guard joined local cub scouts and
boy scouts in presenting the flags. Jeff’s sister Lauren continued the tone by
singing the National Anthem. Then, the school’s choir sang “America
the Beautiful” and a montage of historical battle pictures flashed across the
After an enthusiastic buildup, the packed auditorium sprang
to their feet to welcome Jeff to the stage.
Two students joined him on stools and explained that they
had compiled a list of questions from students at the school.
The questions explored the quality of military food in Iraq,
the training that defines a Marine and the relationship between the U.S.
Marines and Iraqi residents. In short, Jeff said that the food was sub-par, the
training was extensive and the Iraqis, for the most part, were kind and knew
they were there to help.
Another question asked; “Could you tell us about one time
when you were afraid?” He paused for a moment before replying.
“One time I was on foot patrol walking around the city, and
we were looking for bombs on the side of the street, or anything else that
could be dangerous,” Jeff said. “I peeked down into a trash can and I thought
something was exploding…but I looked down and it was a cat that had been in the
Aside from honoring one of their own, the assembly was also meant
to restore gratitude.
“We were really trying to inflate a very deflated concept of
patriotism for this generation,” said event organizer Sandra Wyllie. “I feel
like our generation has not taught them well, and they have enjoyed the freedom
but haven’t understood the sacrifice that comes with it.”
Jeff Philip’s homecoming will be brief, as he is set to
deploy for his second tour late this year or early next year. This time, he
will be patrolling Afghanistan.