INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - Clad in helmets and Army fatigues, kids as young as seven climbed into military convoy vehicles armed for combat.
"I thought that was pretty cool because I've never actually put on anything that used in the army before," said Charlie Jantzen, a fourth grader at William Southern Elementary School in Independence.
From the driver seat, nine-year-old Charlie manned an armored transporter. Meanwhile other students got up close to a combat vehicle so top-secret they weren't allowed to take pictures of the inside.
"They had seats and a big steering wheel and buttons," said Salma Villegas, a fifth grader.
"It was really cool," said fifth grader Ashley Miller. "I saw the steering wheel and there was a button or key hole to start it."
From the weight of the uniforms to using their imaginations of what it's like to drive a Humvee, this was all part of a Veteran's Day exercise.
"It's a day to celebrate or give thanks to all the veterans who gave their lives or risked their lives for our country," said Charlie.
Each year service men and women come to William Southern Elementary School to teach the students what military life is like beyond what they see on television, the movies and in video games.
"It's Veterans Day," said Army Sgt. John Lopez. "It's a great day for me to get out to show the kids another side of the military."
While Lopez was there to teach the kids a lesson, he said he also learned something; the value of a simple thank you from a group of children.
"You cannot measure what that does," said Lopez. "It's a huge reminder that you have friends and family - people at home that still support you."