Robert Ryff, U.S. Coast Guard, salutes students as they welcome him to the Veterans Day assembly.
Students dressed in red and white and holding American flags lined the hallway of Spring Hill Elementary to welcome over 60 veterans who were honored at the school on Veterans Day.
Both retired and active service military personnel from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard were recognized and thanked for their service and sacrifices. The students recited “Heroes Die for Me” and sang “Song for the Unsung Hero,” among a number of other patriotic songs, as their honorees watched and listened from the stage of the school’s cafeteria.
Among the honored guests was Lt. Col. (Ret.) Sharon Collins, former assistant principal of Spring Hill Elementary and mother of Army 1st Lt. Robert Collins who was killed in Iraq earlier this year. All staff members wore a star with Robert Collins’ picture in his honor. Also among the veterans honored was the school’s principal, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Randy Hudson.
Students presented each veteran with a special medallion to commemorate the day as their names and branch of military were announced. Veterans who fought in WW II, the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom were in attendance.
Each grade level, K through fifth, also presented a HeroBox to Tyrone resident Ryan Housley, founder and executive director of HeroBox.org. Each box contained food, personal hygiene and entertainment items that have been requested by deployed soldiers. The third grade was declared the grade level winner, collecting the most items in the shortest amount of time.
“It is people like you that enable us to support our soldiers and give them what they need,” Housley told the students as he explained the mission of his organization and that it started because his brother, Evan, who was deployed to Iraq in late 2007, noted that the typical care packages soldiers receive were generic and did not always provide items they need.
HeroBox.org is a nonprofit organization that gives deployed service members the ability to request specific items while providing Americans with a way to directly support the troops. HeroBox.org was launched in 2008.
Major Robert “Josh” Woodruff was the Master of Ceremonies. Teachers Shelby Garner, chairperson of the Rays of Sunshine Service Committee, and Karen Neuner, music teacher and head of the Veterans Day Activity Committee, organized the program.
Following the assembly, the veterans enjoyed a reception in the media center and visits to classrooms.
Photo Source: Fayette County Board of Education
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