The death of Ohio National Guard Capt. Nicholas Rozanski was especially heartbreaking for first-graders at Etna Road Elementary School.

The death of Ohio National Guard Capt. Nicholas Rozanski was especially heartbreaking for first-graders at Etna Road Elementary School.

Jayne Shannon, the students' teacher, had to explain to her class about the death of Rozanski, one of three Ohio National Guard members killed April 4 in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber.

Just two days earlier, the children in Shannon's class had learned that Rozanski had received a package the students had sent him and other soldiers in his unit, containing cards, drawings and a few nonperishable goods.

Shannon's sister, Dianne Fidler, once worked with Rozanski at the Defense Logistics Agency in Whitehall and arranged for Shannon's class to send Rozanski a care package.

As one of the new educational "indicators" of the Ohio Department of Education, students are required to learn about writing letters.

One suggestion was that students write letters to soldiers, and Fidler helped to arrange their delivery to Rozanski.

The students wrote the letters about three weeks prior to the April 4 bombing.

"They wrote letters and handmade pictures ... thanking him and other soldiers for their service," Shannon said.

The father of a student in Shannon's class is serving in Afghanistan, "so what we were doing was particularly close for him," Shannon said.

On April 2, Rozanski communicated with Fidler, saying he had received the package and shared it with the other soldiers in his unit.

Fidler relayed his message to Shannon, who in turn told her class that Rozanski had received the package.

Two days later, Shannon had to decide how to tell her class about his death.

At the time, the media had reported the bombing, but the soldiers' names weren't yet made public.

"Dianne called me (April 4) and told me. I knew I had to tell my class," Shannon said.

"I told the class, 'Remember Nick, the soldier we sent the cards and pictures to? Children, Nick died.' It was so silent," Shannon said. "We spoke about Nick watching from heaven ... and they understood."

Shannon's first-grade class will honor his memory and those of all soldiers with a special recital of the Pledge of Allegiance on June 1 at the Etna Road Elementary School talent show to conclude the school year.

Shannon's students are learning to perform sign language for each word in the Pledge of Allegiance, set to the recording of The Pledge of Allegiance by country music artist Lee Greenwood, best known for a similarly themed recording, God Bless the U.S.A.

The performance satisfies another state indicator: citizenship.

Shannon said she has spoken with Rozanski's mother, Pam Mitchell, as well as the family of another Central Ohio soldier, Staff Sgt. Chris Brown, who was killed April 3 in a separate incident in Afghanistan. On the following day, Rozanski, 36, Staff Sgt. Shawn Hannon, 44, of Grove City, and Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Rieck, 46, of northwest Columbus, were killed.

Shannon said family members of all four fallen soldiers would be invited to the performance.

"This hit (Etna Road Elementary School) personally because of Nick," she said. "We're dedicating the performance to him and the other soldiers. We hope to have a slideshow of the four soldiers (to accompany our performance)."

Rozanski, Hannon and Rieck were members of 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Ohio Army National Guard and were part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team comprises about 2,500 troops from Ohio and Michigan.

The attack occurred in Maimana, the capital of the Faryab province, in northern Afghanistan near the Turkmenistan border.

The guardsmen were training members of the Afghanistan National Police and Afghanistan National Army to use radios for improved communication. The unit was traveling through a park when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated an improvised explosive device.

Brown was killed in an IED explosion April 3 while on a dismounted patrol in the Kunar province of Afghanistan.