As schoolchildren gathered Monday to honor their family members and others who have put their lives on the line for the country in times of war, the message wasn’t lost on Tinley Park resident Michael Hanna.
Hanna, a war veteran, was especially heartened by the assembly.
“It meant quite a lot,” he said. “I never had something like this happen. … They’re finally starting to honor us when nobody did.”
He was at Liberty Junior High School Monday in New Lenox for a program, put on by the National Honor Society and Student Council that included the posting of colors and a rendition of taps.
Bridget O’Brien, advisor for the Liberty Junior High School student council, said the students had been working tirelessly to organize the program.
“It’s enjoyable to work with the kids and see them shine,” she said.
Not all schools are in session for Veterans Day.
“I’m grateful here in New Lenox we do have school on Veterans Day, so the kids can hear firsthand what it means to give respect and gratitude to veterans for their service,” O’Brien said.
All branches of the military were recognized during the program. O’Brien said the ceremony drew in veterans who served as far back as World War II.
Liberty Junior High School principal Shane Street said the school has been looking forward to putting on the assembly for a while.
“I’m honored that so many veterans, current service members and their family members have taken the time out of their days to join us, especially considering the November/February weather that we’re enjoying this morning,” he said.
Students at New Lenox School District 122 schools had been raising money to help support Honor Flight Chicago and its efforts to honor veterans for their service. As of the assembly, contributions in the amount of $2,700 were donated to the not-for-profit organization.
Street said the Veterans Day assembly had an important message for students as well.
“It’s a great privilege to live in a community like New Lenox in a country like ours—a community where we can enjoy the many freedoms that we do, a community where we feel a sense of security and safety that we do,” he told the school during the ceremony. “Those feelings are in large part due to the service of our guests here today, others like them currently living all over the United States and the world, those currently serving both the United States in active service here and overseas, and those who have given their lives in service to our country.”
Homer Glen resident John Nunez said Veterans Day will always have special meaning for him.
“When you’re in the Army, you never forget,” he said.
During a portion of the ceremony, the names of veterans who’ve died were projected across a screen, an element that stood out to Nunez.
“The veterans who’ve passed—that’s something else,” he said.