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The Cinnaminson Middle School honored veterans on Tuesday with its annual ceremony. There were 65 veterans in attendance, most of them guests of students.
This year’s ceremony marked the fourth one where students were allowed to invite guests, but the middle school has been holding a veterans ceremony for 10 years now.
The program, which is led by members of the school’s Student Senate, was poignant and well-received.
“The veterans show a tremendous sense of appreciation being asked to come back and talk about their experiences,” CMS principal Frank Goulburn said. “Folks seem to be very happy to be here and recognized.”
The ceremony is close to the heart of Principal Goulburn, whose grandfather was killed in action when his father was just two months old.
Veterans from nearly every branch of the armed forces were in attendance, including the honor and color guards from VFW Post 3020 from Delran.
The Cinnaminson Select Singers performed the National Anthem and the 8th Grade Band performed “America the Beautiful/God Bless America.”
Both performances were beautiful tributes to those who willingly sacrificed for others to be free.
Essays were read by 6th grader Sriram Elango, 7th grader Sean Kennedy and 8th grader Leah Rose that depicted what America means to them.
Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart recipient George Bull, Kennedy’s grandfather, was in attendance for the first time.
“We drove up from Williamsburg, Virginia to see Sean read his essay,” Bull said. “I really didn’t have any anticipation, but I was very, very impressed.”
“I was just privileged to be here. I got to meet some of my fellow veterans. Just to shake hands with them was an honor. The patriotic spirit of the community and the kids makes me proud.”
Towards the end of the ceremony, the Cinnaminson Select Singers performed the Armed Forces Salute, singing every branch’s song as veterans stood during their song.
Cinnaminson Superintendent Dr. Salvatore Illuzzi was in attendance to give the keynote address.
Dr. Illuzzi read letters to those in attendance written by a World War I veteran to his mother.
The most telling segment read was that the soldier, identified as Alan, wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
The soldier did not regret his decision to enlist at the age of 19.
“To our veterans, those who didn’t come home and those who did, you were true to your word,” Dr. Illuzzi said.
“For each of you who made this country as special as it is, we cannot extend enough gratitude towards you.”
Lili Myers is the president of the Student Senate. Her father served in the Marines, but was not in attendance today due to his work schedule.
“Once you get up there, you sort of calm down a little bit. You feel the importance of it,” Myers said. “You think about how important it is. I’m very happy that I got to take part in this with my fellow students and I got to honor the veterans.”
“I almost got teary eyed at one point, thinking that he served for me. He wasn’t home when I was born. They sacrificed that for you, so you could have a better life.”
Student Senate member Allison McAneny had a guest in attendance for the ceremony.
“My dad was in the Marines for six and a half years,” McAneny said. “I thought it was special and kind of emotional too, especially when they played taps.”
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