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Monroeville shows 'gratitude' toward veterans

Cary Ashby • Nov 11, 2017 at 12:00 PM

MONROEVILLE — Nearly everyone was standing in the Monroeville Athletic Complex when the students and residents were asked if they had a relative who served in the military.

Monroeville Local Schools Superintendent Ralph Moore said that kind of representation shows how much impact veterans have. He also asked the audience to think of one word that they associate with vets and how that word is defined.

“For me, that one word is gratitude,” said Moore, who noted “we wouldn’t be here” without the service of our veterans.

The entire student body paid tribute to veterans with a program Friday morning. The junior high/high school band, directed by Rob Hayes, opened the assembly with “The Star Spangled Banner” and ended it with a patriotic song titled “Freedom Finale.”

Seniors Tabitha Fisher and Addi Gessling, who helped organize the event, offered a YouTube video, “America, Why I Love Her,” that was narrated by the late actor John Wayne. 

The fifth- and sixth-grade choir sang a song based on the Pledge of Allegiance. The fourth-grade music class also sang for the veterans. The junior high and high school choirs, directed by Adam Sampson, also performed.

Senior Ashlyn Tommas shared her eloquent essay, “Grandpa’s Bible,” which paid tribute to her grandfather, Albert Good Sr., of Collins. Good served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War from 1966 through 1968.

“That was really super,” he said about his granddaughter’s tribute.

Good said he carried a Bible with him all the time and during a May 21, 1967 incident, he was shot five times — three times in his arm and twice in the leg — and the shrapnel went through the first 31 pages of the Bible. He underwent four surgeries and received the Purple Heart.

Tommas began the essay as a 4-H project.

“I just wanted to honor him,” said the daughter of Michael and Joni. “It’s just crazy to think of all he went through. I don’t think people realize what they went through.”

After the program, Sandusky resident William Whitt introduced himself to Good. They were in the same unit in Vietnam, the 25th Infantry, but Whitt was in it before the soldiers became involved in the war.

“I was astonished,” Whitt said about the coincidence of being together at the MAC.

During the program, senior Allie Schafer and substitute teacher Joanne Hubbard presented several Quilts of Valor to several area veterans. Hubbard, a Milan resident, is a volunteer with the Quilts of Valor Foundation and has made about 100 quilts over six years.

“The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans with healing and comforting quilts. These quilts are meant to say thank you for your service and that you are appreciated and that we support you,” Schafer said.

Hubbard often hears from veterans that they don’t deserve a quilt because they said “they didn’t do anything special,” someone else deserves it more or they didn’t serve overseas.

“Well, my response to is always the same. I tell any veterans who says any of these things that, ‘Yes, you do deserve a quilt. You may not have left the country or fought in any major battles, but you would have if you were asked to do so,’” she said, noting the sacrifices they made while serving our country.

Three Monroeville school district relatives received Quilts of Valor on Friday — Mary Caley, Emmanuel Harvey and Nathan Whaley. Caley was World War II Army nurse. Harvey served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps. Whaley first was in the Army Reserves and then was active duty from 2004 through 2008.

The following WWII and Korean War veterans also received quilts: Richard Armbrust (Ohio National Guard and Army), Jim Herner and Mel Martin (both Army), Ervin Myers (Navy) and Richard Reser, William Stang and Bob Stieber (all Army).

“We hope that you accept these quilts as a token of our appreciation and to show you that we will never forget what you have done for us and our freedom,” Schafer said. 

Armbrust is a former Monroeville superintendent.

“When I see the spirit in this room, it brings me to tears, which is a hard thing to do,” he said.

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