Take a Veteran to School Day is not only a day to honor all veterans that have served in the United States Armed Forces, but also a day to teach the students at Cinnaminson Middle School about community involvement, respect and selfless acts.
On Tuesday, Nov. 12, the eighth-grade student body and the middle school’s student council invited veterans, superintendent Stephen Capello, members of VFW Post 3020 and other members of the community to the 7th Annual Take a Veteran to School Day.
“Every year, I am reminded of how touching and important this ceremony is for all of the veterans, but particularly because of the eighth-grade students,” said Cinnaminson Middle School Principal Hamm Kolev. “For some of us, we could have been in our second decade of attending this event, but it’s important to remember that each year there are 200 fresh-minded eighth-graders that are experiencing this for the first time.”
Seven years ago, Cinnaminson changed the format of the event to make it a more student-oriented day. Instead of having several adults go up to the podium to speak about Veteran’s Day, the event was mostly run by the student council.
Last Tuesday, student council members got up to read passages about the history of the pledge of allegiance and Veteran’s Day. The Cinnaminson Select Singers and the eighth-grade band performed the national anthem, the United States Armed Forces Salute and “Bunker Hill March” by John Edmondson.
The only adult to go to the podium during the ceremony was Kolev, who took time to thank everyone that attended, but also posed a question to the students.
“Speaking as a veteran, I will not presume to speak for all veterans, but there are many things that veterans have in common,” Kolev said. “Veterans do not serve for the accolades of their fellow citizens, although they deserve them. Veterans don’t serve for the great pay and benefits, although they deserve to be taken care of for their sacrifices. Veterans don’t serve because they have a hero complex, although many have shown great heroism.
“Veterans don’t serve for the travel, although they have been to every corner of the world to protect our freedom,” Kolev continued. “So why do generations after generations join the armed forces and risk life and limb, risk separation from their families, teammates and friends and risk years away in foreign countries? The answer to this is because veterans serve because their country needed them. They served for the greater good. They served for selfless reasons that at the time may seem irrational to others. They serve for the love of the country. They serve for us.”
According to Cinnaminson Middle School teacher and student council advisor Melissa DeClementi, ceremonies like this urge students to get involved with and get to know their community.
“Our programs continue to grow each year and it’s really been by word of mouth,” DeClementi said. “It’s cool some people are from the town, but we had people fly in for the event. It’s neat that people show this much appreciation for veterans.”