A beautiful fall morning greeted the students, faculty and honored guests at J.D. Floyd Elementary School in Spring Hill on Friday, November 8. They were gathered outside to pay tribute to our country’s veterans. In attendance were forty-two active and retired military personnel. All of these service people were either teachers, former teachers, or related to students or faculty members. These men and women represented all branches of the military and served from the 1950’s to the present day.
In her introduction, Principal Joyce Lewis said, “They [the veterans] are the reason we have no school on Monday. They’re the ones who have helped us with our freedom. We do this program so that you know it’s not just another day off from school.”
Ms. Lewis started this event in 1998 when she was a teacher at Floyd elementary. She also did similar programs at various other schools before returning to Floyd.
“For children who don’t have any connection with someone in the military, this program helps them make that connection that there are people out there fighting for us,” Ms. Lewis commented.
Her son, Mike Tamborello, is a member of the armed services and was present at the ceremony. She read out the name of each veteran, as well as where and when each one served. As she was doing this, a member of the student council presented each individual with a rose.
Mrs. Rochelle Brooks sang the National Anthem. The J.D. Floyd Dolphin Chorus, under the direction of Ms. Faith Cancilla and Mrs. Brooks, sang several patriotic songs. After the ceremony, the veterans and their respective relatives were treated to breakfast in the cafeteria.
Rick Merrill, who served in the Coast Guard for six years was there with his fifth grade son, Randyn.
“I was impressed by how they [the school] got all the parents and grandparents together,” Merrill stated.
Robert Lewis, an Army veteran of nine years saw combat in the Middle East. His daughter, Aria, who is in first grade, stood proudly next to him.
“I was impressed by how well the program was put together,” Lewis remarked.
Maria Coates retired after twenty years in the Army. She worked as a nurse and also served as a civil affairs officer in Baghdad, Iraq. Her granddaughter, Marybella Rotundo, a first grader, sat smiling next to her.
“It was special to me the way the school acknowledged our service,” said Ms. Coates.
This ceremony was an ideal way to honor our veterans. It also taught the children not to take our freedoms for granted, along with a valuable lesson about service and sacrifice for our country.