Middle School recognizes veterans in emotional ceremony ahead of Veterans Day

A veteran stands up


NOV. 8, 2022— The Pal-Mac Middle School celebrated our nation's veterans a few days ahead of Veterans Day during a special ceremony Tuesday morning.


From the get go, veterans were welcomed with an array of American flags planted on the outer perimeter of the school building. Students and staff also wore red, white and blue. Students got a chance to sit down and share breakfast and conversation with the vets, and then it was time for the ceremony.


Both students, faculty and veterans packed the school's gym for a roughly hour-long presentation that featured music, speakers, and much more. The school was pleased to welcome keynote speaker Joseph Zabawa, who served in the United States Army from 1994 to 2004. Zabawa spoke to the crowd about what it means to serve your country, and why it is important to thank those who have served.


Pal-Mac's Middle School band then took it from there, as the students performed a medley of the official songs of every branch of the United States Armed Forces. Veterans stood up to be recognized when their respective service was announced.


Following the music performance, students presented each veteran in attendance with a special gift of a rememberance poppy and a little note as they announced their names. Shortly after, "Taps" was played in honor of those who we have lost.


Among those in attendance was Vietnam War Veteran Rick Bjornholm, you may remember him as one of the veterans that students wrote letters to as part of the Honor Flight of Rochester program. At the time, Bjornholm said he planned to attend Tuesday's ceremony because he was so moved by the student's letters.


Bjornholm was reunited with Ameilia , a student who he previously had met at the airport when students came to visit back on Sep.11. He said the ceremony was a welcome he and his fellow Vietnam vets never got when they originally returned home from war.


"When I fought, we had to sneak back into the country," Bjornholm said. "There weren't a lot of people happy with us then. This welcome was really special."


He added that he initially received 11 cards from students, and responded to all of them. 


Student hugs a veteran


Students and veterans had another chance to chat after the ceremony, with several sharing laughs, handshakes, and "thank yous."


Middle School Principal Darcy Smith said:


"We enjoyed having veterans back, in person, in the middle school for this honorary assembly. We appreciate that our special guests took time out of their days to bring their stories and experiences to the middle school to share with students. "


View a full photo gallery from the day here.


Celebrations will continue on Thursday.



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