Rep. Matt Gaetz was among invited guests at the Sept. 15 event. Capt. Nathan Nelson, a retired veteran from the U.S. Air Force, also spoke to the children about how the military protects their rights.

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JAY — Chumuckla Elementary School hosted a Constitution Day event where guests spoke to students about the importance of the United States Constitution.

Rep. Matt Gaetz was among invited guests at the Sept. 15 event. Capt. Nathan Nelson, a retired veteran from the U.S. Air Force, also spoke to the children about how the military protects their rights. Nelson was wounded in 2013 in Afghanistan and was paralyzed from his injuries. He now works with Gaetz on issues such as veterans affairs.

A group of active duty and retired military members with children and grandchildren at Chumuckla listened as guests and others shared their stories with the audience. Veterans included Sandie Leonard, Chumuckla's guidance counselor who served in the Air Force, and Howard Levins, a substitute teacher who served two years in the Army and 25 years in the Air Force.

“All of these veterans have one important thing that ties them together,” Nelson said. “Every single one of us took an oath… to protect the constitution from enemies…

“The constitution lays out all of the laws in our system of government that makes us the greatest nation in the world. That’s worth risking our lives in order to defend it. I’m a prime example of the risk we take when taking that oath.”

Before Sen. Greg Evers’ sudden death last month, Evers planned on attending Chumuckla Elementary's event. Gaetz took his place and explained to students the rights outlined in the Constitution.

“We are so lucky as Americans to live in a constitutional system,” Gaetz said. “What I’ve learned is so special is our power doesn’t come from government, it comes from God; it comes from the people.”

Gaetz gave the students a crash-course in constitutional law, explaining the Bill of Rights and the three branches of government. Students raised their hands, sharing the information they have learned about the Constitution and interacting with the congressman.

A group of kindergartners performed the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem for the guests, and a group of fourth-graders recited the Preamble to the Constitution.

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