Tonawanda News — There are heroes among us.
And, on Thursday, they took a seat — and the podium — at St. Christopher School in Tonawanda, invited to help the students celebrate Veteran’s Day with a special assembly dedicated to honoring the sacrifices and service of U.S. veterans and service members.
Teacher Jessica Graham, who organized the event, said it all ties into the the school’s character program.
“What better way to blend it all together than to bring in our own resource — our family members?” she said. “We have veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam ... and whole slew of Persian Gulf/Desert Storm. Almost every decade is represented, and some from the current one.”
Students, staff and family members gathered in a gymnasium decorated with red, white and blue balloons and signs saying “Thank you” and “We Salute You.”
Twenty-five of the honorees attended the program, including Gerald Gajewski, grandfather of a St. Christopher student. Gajewski, who served in the U.S. military for nine years, including the Marine Corps and the Air Force, told the students he had “many stories, some sad, some happy, some funny and some just interesting.”
“Brave men and women gave their lives (so) that we could gather here today,” he said, encouraging students and visitors to thank veterans whenever they encounter them.
Many families sent in names, service details and photos for a video presentation shown on a big screen, featuring almost 70 names (with students’ great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, uncles and even a few siblings mentioned) and service sites from from Normandy and Okinawa to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Among the photos was a wedding photo of Dawn Flynn, the mother of first-grader Hannah Flynn and an Army Nurse Corps officer currently stationed in Niagara Falls. She told the students about learning about sacrifice the first time while watching her parents co-signing her enlistment papers.