WILMINGTON – Immaculate Heart of Mary School has sponsored its Bring a Veteran to School Day for the last six years, and Deb Pace has been there for five of them. The Wilmington resident spent four years in the Navy in the early 1990s and now has a son, Angelo, who is a fourth-grader at IHM. She said she wouldn’t miss this day.
“It’s hard not to well up,” Pace said. “They do such a great job.”
Pace and her father, John Graybeal, an Army vet who made the trip north from Earleville, Md., were among more than 60 service personnel who visited Immaculate Heart on Nov. 11. Most were related to one or more students, while some were neighbors. Two served during World War II and four in Korea, while a larger number were in Vietnam and the multiple conflicts in the Persian Gulf region.
Students dressed in red, white and blue, and several stood outside waving small American flags and greeting the guests. Once inside, the vets were serenaded by the first grade, which sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
John Harris, president of the student council, thanked the soldiers, sailors and marines on behalf of the 490 children at IHM.
“We can never fully repay our debt of gratitude to them. All the members of the IHM community join me in saying thank you, veterans, for your service,” he said.
Each of the young hosts introduced their guests individually, and the fourth through eighth grades presented a short history of each of the branches of the military.
Principal John Mitchell wrapped up the ceremony by telling the students that it is easy to forget that those who volunteer to serve are usually stationed far from home and give up many things the rest of us take for granted. He added that the Veterans Day event fits into Vocations Awareness Week, which was marked just one week before.
“The military is another form of service,” he said.