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American Legion honor guard members Art Buck (with rifle) and Ray Biagioni stand at attention while the Hall High School chorus performs a patriotic song Thursday at a ceremony honoring veterans at Hall High School.
The Hall High School LEO’s Club sponsored a special assembly on Thursday to give students a face for the upcoming Veterans Day. Patriotic music was playing as the students gathered in the bleachers in the gym. Across from the students sat 23 veterans many of whom lived in Spring Valley their whole lives and graduated from Hall. They served in many braches of the military and in several different wars and peace time areas, including World War II, the Korean War, Iraq and Afghanistan. “We wanted to do it for a couple of years,” said senior Madison Dhesse, president of the LEO Club, about the assembly. She added the group spent hours in homeroom planning the event. Barbara Fulara, LEO Club sponsor, said the program had two purposes. The first was to honor the people who have or are currently serving in the U.S. military branches. “We cannot do enough. We cannot say thank you enough to what these people sitting here have done for us so that you could sit here in these bleachers in a free country today,” said Fulara. The second reason, said Fulara, was to educate the students on what Veteran’s Day really means. “So when you have that day off on Monday there is meaning as to why and what we are celebrating,” she added. Fulara said veterans had risen above the call of duty. “I, for one, wish to say thank you,” she said. The remark was followed by loud applause. She said they could not repay them, but would hope that today would show that they were grateful. The assembly included a flag ceremony by the Spring Valley American Legion and VFW and patriotic song selections preformed by the Hall Advanced Choir and select students from the Hall and John F. Kennedy school bands. The honors English IV class also read thank-you letters from two students to a brother currently serving and a grandfather who did serve in the military. This was followed by the students reading a group message of why they remembered, appreciated and honored veterans. Fulara also read a list of names of Hall alumni veterans who could not attend the service because they were currently serving, working or had passed away. LEO club members also decorated the 24 trees lining the west lane of the school and the rock memorial outside the main entrance which lists the names of 24 Hall students who died in World War II. Fulara said the trees were planted in the students’ honor. Later the veterans who were present introduced themselves and talked a little about their service. Among the vets were city alderman Jack Narczewski and mayor Walt Marini. The students gave each of the vets a red, white or blue carnation. Paul Mignone, a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force who served for three years, read a poem titled “Freedom is not Free” by Kelly Strong. He asked that people do not forget those who were or are POWs, MIA or killed in action. “I was very impressed,” said Mignone about the students’ efforts for the assembly. At the end of program Fulara reminded the students that veterans are their friends, family and neighbors. “We hope in some small way you have seen the face of Veterans Day,” she told the students. After the assembly many of the students came to meet and thank the veterans personally before heading back to class. “I think its cool that all the students get to see the veterans and honor them. We never got to do that before,” Dhesse said.
Alicia LeGrand-Riniker can be reached at (815) 220-6931.
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