The 15th annual salute to servicemen, servicewomen and veterans at Kelley School in Newark recently served as a tribute to those who served and are serving this country.
It started in the cafeteria with veterans and active duty military personnel enjoying breakfast with school children related to them at patriotically decorated tables. An assembly followed with Principal Jeff Hamelinck welcoming the guests, calling the opportunity to do so “a great privilege.”
“We are truly blessed to honor you today,’’ Hamelinck said at the assembly. “Thank you for your service and sacrifice you made at home or in other countries. You put your hopes and dreams on hold, and sacrificed much to serve our country.”
Hamelinck reminded students of the rights and opportunities that are sometimes taken for granted, like the right to vote, publicly express differing opinions and worship wherever they choose. He said these freedoms, and so many others, would not be possible were it not, in large part, to those who served, and are serving, this country and protecting this country’s liberty.
“These men and women collectively have spent many, many days and many years sacrificing their time to serve our country, and we benefit from it every day of the week,” Hamelinck said. “Thank you for your service to others and for the freedoms we enjoy because of your service.”
Hamelinck told Kelley School students to make it their goal to express their appreciation as often as possible.
“Whenever you see a veteran, and not just on Nov. 11 or Nov. 12, thank them for their service and for the opportunities they have helped provide our country with because of their service,’’ he said.
The Kelley School third-grade chorus, directed by general music teacher Libby Brozik, sang the national anthem. Fifth-grader Nicholas DeYulio and fourth-grader Anthony DeYulio from Boy Scout Pack 122 read essays about what taps means to them.
Hamelinck asked everyone to observe a moment of silence to honor those who died in combat and those missing in action. This was followed by taps played by Kelley School band members Evan Burley, Nicholas DeYulio, Brooklyn Hand, Autumn Hockenbruckner, Maggie Lynch, Matthew Murrell, Brayden Sherman and Kyla Williams.
Dennis Tellier, president of the Newark Veterans Council, presented a plaque to Hamelinck in appreciation of Kelley School’s annual salute to veterans on behalf of the August Mauer American Legion Post 286 and Arcadia Memorial Post 2883, Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The third-grade chorus then sang “On Veterans Day.” Each branch of service was recognized by the playing of its theme song and banners with each insignia. Cameron Johnson followed this with an essay. The assembly ended with students singing “We Are Proud of Our Veterans.”
“It truly has been a pleasure and honor to thank you for the gifts of service you all have given us,’’ Hamelinck said as the assembly came to a close.
He thanked Kelley School staff and students who were involved in planning for and participating in the annual tribute.