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Veteran shares stories, smiles with Golden Hills daycare

Grassroots Tehachapi


November 24, 2018

Julianna Crisalli

In honor of Veterans Day, Richard Oldenburg plays "Taps" on his trumpet after sharing stories from his time in the service with children from Golden Hills Extended Daycare.

I have two very sweet and polite kids, but like all children, I know their attention span and ability to stay quiet when others are talking requires saintly patience. So, it was incredible for me to watch a group of elementary school children remain completely captivated by the stories and songs of Richard Oldenburg.

In honor of veterans Day, Oldenburg visited Golden Hills Extended Daycare on Nov. 15 to share stories of his time in the service.

The kids were quiet as he talked about life at war. The smaller ones were patient as ideas and concepts, beyond their years, were discussed openly. And they all waited eagerly to see what was hiding in the hard black case at Oldenburg's feet.

They asked questions. Some adorable and silly, some mature and curious.

"Who was that Mrs. Butterworth you talked about?"

"Were you ever injured or a prisoner at war?"

"Do you have any grandkids?"

Others raised their hands simply to share that their mommy, daddy or another loved one had also served in the military.

Behind Oldenburg's chair was a wall of photos, as well as patriotic drawings and signs. The kids were asked to bring photos of relatives who have served their country. All of them were honored that day through the innocent voices of the children and the gentle knowledge of Oldenburg.

After all the stories had been told and the last questions were answered, the mysterious black case opened to reveal a beautiful trumpet.

"It's going to be a little loud, you all might want to move back," Oldenburg told the kids.

Though I'm sure every kid wanted their chance to play it, they all scooted back ... even if just a little.

Oldenburg began by playing "Taps" then moved through hymns, marches and songs representing different branches of the United States military.

At the end of the visit Oldenburg was presented with a book of drawings and thank you notes from the school.

"I meet a lot of people but this, notes and drawings from children, are always the best," he said holding the book tight in his arms before he left the school.

Oldenburg, who is also a former teacher, has written two children's books, "The Musical Dragon" and "How the Quail Earned His Topknot." Proceeds from the books are donated toward cancer research.

I've met Oldenburg before and each time I'm comforted by the gentle sound of his voice and the smile that never seems to leave his face. He's also great at giving advice:

"While you're in school, do the best you can always and get the best grades you can always. Oh, and read everyday," he said.

Do you know an inspirational group, individual or program that should be featured in an upcoming Grassroots Tehachapi? Email me at [email protected]

See you next time and be kind to one another!


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