New York firefighters Bob Hofer and Mike Harris got a rousing welcome as they entered the Lizana Elementary School gym. A sea of flag-waving students and teachers greeted the heroes who've come so far to see them.
"It was really exciting, because they came all the way from New York," second grader Marissa Necaise said. "We're trying to show how much we appreciate them coming".
The salute actually gave the firefighters a chance to show their appreciation to the school. They were especially touched by a flag the students created called "The Trail of Gratitude." That flag hung in St. Paul's Cathedral in Manhattan, a sanctuary for rescue workers near Ground Zero.
"We slept there, we ate there, we cried there, and we prayed there. You were there every minute of the day with us. You should be proud," firefighter Bob Hofer said.
"This is more than we expected," firefighter Mike Harris said. "We are overwhelmed by it. It's very emotional, and we appreciate everything that you all have done for us."
Each class gave the firefighters some patriotic artwork to recognize the firemen's hard work and bravery. In return, the firefighters presented the school a picture they took of the inspiring banner.
"We're a country school, and to know that our Trail of Gratitude flag had such an impact so far away in New York City, it made me cry," teacher Sharon Hasselman said.
Bob Hofer and Mike Harris are part of a group of firefighters and police officers from New York, who are vacationing on the Coast this week.