Honoring our veterans
A 21-year-old war veteran and amputee told students he felt grateful to be alive, at St. Isidore School last Friday, as part of the school's annual Veteran's Day celebration.
"Seeing these smiling faces reminds me how blessed I am to still be here," said Manny Del Rio, featured speaker and Sentinels of Freedom recipient. He lost his leg aboard the USS Kitty Hawk two years ago, when a wheel crushed him during a routine inspection.
School Principal Jean Schroeder said her intention was to highlight a young speaker in order to help kids relate and understand that soldiers fighting today are just like them.
"I've always had a more mature speaker, but this year I'm trying to appeal to the kids," she said. "I want them to understand that our men and women overseas are young people - hardly much older than they are."
Older war vets spoke as well - many of whom were grandfathers of students. They stood up one by one and talked briefly about their military position and the war they served in.
"It's nice to grow old. And it's nice to have someone appreciate what you've done in the past," said Sal Spingola, 84, who was a pilot in World War II.
Children waved small American flags, sang "God Bless America," and were most intrigued by the prosthetic leg Del Rio showed them, along with the large military Jeep parked on school grounds for the ceremony.
"I liked the stories they told and how he showed us his leg," said Katie Kuptz, a student.
The school recently had a Halloween candy donation collection for the troops and many kids brought in some of their own trick-or-treat stash to send abroad.
The ceremony concluded with a bagpipe player and a moment of silence to remember those who have served in the military and honor those serving today.
"Kids just like themselves are ending up in Iraq," Schroeder said.