Thankful BMS Student Expresses Gratitude for Veterans
By Ally Marchewitz '19
Veterans day. A day to remember. No one knew what to expect. Normally, kids hate dressing up and going to school, but that day was different. It was a special day for people to remember the veterans of our country. The people who served for us, and protected us, so we can be free.
“We have to remember the important things in life,” noted seventh grader Jake Marchewitz. “One of these is our Veterans. They are very important.”
I have always loved being the “welcoming committee” for our grade: new kids, new teachers, new to the District. But being part of the welcoming committee on this special day gave me a warm-hearted and grateful feeling...something I will never forget.
To begin preparations for this special day’s program, which began 14 years ago by teacher Mrs. Carol Kapostasy, we had an assignment to do an interview with a veteran. We needed to ask questions about them, their stories, and their adventures. Everyone in the grade wrote essays about their interviews and discussed it with our language arts teachers.
As a project, we (the seventh graders) had to interview our own veterans, and we could invite them to this day. We had to ask them questions about their time serving. I interviewed my great grandpa, James D. Morrison. I learned so many things from him like patience, trust, and perseverance. During my conversation with him, he told me that it was the first time he had opened up to anyone about the things he experienced during the war. For so long he had kept the atrocities he experienced to himself. Not only was it interesting for me to hear what he shared but it was also a release for him to talk about it openly. He sent me a copy of the Commendation letter he received from General Patton. It was nice talking to him, since I don’t see him a lot.
As my friends and I were waiting for our guests to arrive on Veterans Day, we couldn’t help but wonder what this day would be like. What food will there be? Who is going to be there? What is going to happen? We knew it was to be a day of honor. But we had no idea of what that honor would mean to the veterans in attendance.
The Veterans were greeted by their student hosts upon arrival at Brady Middle School, were given a boutonniere and a program, and escorted downstairs to the cafeteria for the event. A delicious buffet greeted us all thanks to the PTA!
And then the program began. After the color guard comprised of members of the VFW presented the flag, eighth grader Victoria Popritkin and Veteran William C. Boehm, the founder/director of The Singing Angels opened the program with a rousing rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. People stood crossing their hearts with their hands, giving their respect.
The keynote speaker, Jay Falls, set the tone immediately.
“Thanks to Orange City Schools and Brady Middle School students for all of their hospitality. I’m going to try and get through this speech……I just don’t think I can get through this; I don’t think I can do it. It’s too emotional a day for me.”
It was touching to see the emotion that came from him when he was asked to share his stories of being involved in a war. He could barely get through the speech and asked our Assistant Principal Mrs. Darla Wagner to finish it for him. That made it all the more poignant, especially as her husband played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes to honor the fallen Veterans.
We all recognized the emotion there, including my classmate, seventh grader Faye Fahsbender who said, “It was really cool. It was honoring and sweet. People were crying, very emotional.”
“I’ve learned that many people have served in many wars. This program gives them a chance to be recognized and gives us the opportunity to say ‘thank you’,” seventh grader Haley Shedden said.
One by one, each Veteran was introduced, thanked by the supportive crowd with a round of applause, and then given the opportunity to speak. Each one humbled; each one choking back tears.
“Heroes are not just military, they’re in all phases of life, firemen, policemen, people who put their lives on the line, leaving in the morning, not knowing if they’re going to come back in the evening,” said Army Veteran Mustafa Rashid Davis.
This is why it is so important for all of us to honor veterans. We need to keep showing them appreciation for their sacrifices.
“This is the first time I have ever been celebrated as a veteran, so I never thought of myself as a veteran, because I never went to war. I don’t feel deserving to be honest with you, but it’s special to be here for sure,” said Army Helicopter Pilot Traci Newman.
Seeing everyone come together on such a special day was great. Very honest, and fulfilling.
“I learned it takes hard work to be a soldier. They helped our country, and they helped fight for our freedom,” said seventh grader Leo Abramson.
It broke my heart to hear that some veterans have never heard a thank you for what they have done for our country. I am so glad we had the opportunity to do so that day and we need to remember at this holiday time and always to thank all of the United States veterans out there for their service, their honor, and their braveness. You are greatly appreciated.
“A lot of times we don’t get a thanks. But today it felt comfortable. It was really good. It was touching,” said Eric Smith, an Air Force Aircraft Armament Systems Specialist.
“The kids need to know that serving your country is important, and they need to recognize that people have served their country to put them in the position that they are in today, and it’s just good for us to get a thank you sometimes, because we don’t. Unless you are around a military base all of the time, you just don’t get that. Today it felt good. Today was good. It’s good to be recognized.”
Seeing the gratitude and thanks in their eyes filled the room. It could make a sad person smile. I don’t know if I will ever see so many people smiling, laughing, crying, and being there for each other like that again. It was an amazing feeling that will stay with me forever.
This was a day to remember. And it always will be.
Editor's Note: Ally Marchewitz is a seventh grade student at Brady Middle School who volunteered to share her Veterans Day experience with us. She is the twin sister of Jake and the daughter of Stephen and Jodi of Pepper Pike. We invite you to view additional photos from the event that are posted on Facebook by clicking here. We salute all of the Veterans who have devoted their lives to serving our country.