By Joel Thomas, CBS 11 News

ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Amid the loud games of the last days of school, Corey Elementary School students in Arlington are learning the somber lessons of Memorial Day.

Teachers at the school have told the boys and girls about the life of a former Corey Elementary student. “She said there was this kid named Jeremy Smith who went here from kindergarten to 6th grade,” explained 5th grade student Nolan Harris.

Harris’s classmate, Carson Prim, picks up the story saying, “And in 10th grade he heard about 9/11 and decided to join the Marines and serve our country.”

Smith served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “And this was his fourth time going over there,” Harris said. “He was killed by friendly fire. We were all sad.”

Nestled in the middle of the school is a small green space, carpeted in ivy and surrounded by windows looking back into the school, there will now be a garden memorial to Smith.

“Because he was a member of our school and he was a member of the Marines for our country,” said Christopher Patten, a 5th grade student. “And so we’re honoring him for serving our country.”

Smith’s family wiped away tears as the students held a dedication ceremony Friday. His father hung a flag above the plaque honoring his son’s sacrifice.

“He was brave and noble,” a student read from a winning school competition essay. “Some people are afraid to go in the military. Jeremy wasn’t. He was willing to give his life for our country.”
The school intercom calls for students to observe a moment of silence. Everything goes quiet save the light splashing of the small fountain in the garden.

Students are left to reflect on the Smith family’s loss, and absorb what Memorial Day really means. “There could be a person sitting in your exact same desk, using a pencil like you use, and that could be you in the next future,” Harris said.

“They’ve learned, I guess, what I’ve learned,” Patten said about the lesson of the garden. “Its good to serve our country.”