Since 2006 St. Mary's School has opened its doors and hearts to both active and retired military men and women for their annual veterans assembly. Being near the gates of Offutt AFB the school has military dependents entrusted to their care. Some parents have been or are currently deployed to the Middle East.
Each November the students and staff honor veterans. This year was no different as approximately sixty-five veterans processed into the newly decorated gym, some escorted by their children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren who attend St. Mary's School. In attendance was Bellevue's mayor, Rita Sanders, Patrick Slattery, superintendent of the Omaha Archdiocese as well as Deacon Jeff Braxton who led all in prayer.
The Bellevue East Jr. ROTC, commanded by 1st Lt. Donna Arrowsmith, performed both the opening and closing flag ceremony. Two of her cadets performed a rifle drill that thrilled not only the veterans but the preschoolers as well.
Five WWII veterans, the oldest being 93 years young, were acknowledged by the entire school for being members of the "greatest generation" while Mayor Rita Sanders and principal, Cheryl Castle, thanked them for their service while presenting them with small gifts.
Every year a special group of veterans are honored and this year spouses of veterans were personally thanked for their sacrifices. Mrs. Storch, the school's sixth grade teacher, herself named the US Air Force spouse of the year a few years ago, read a poem explaining what a military spouse is and does for their military spouses. Spouses were thanked and presented with "spiritual" bouquets made by the upper grade students.
All the veterans and spouses were thanked through the singing of a thank you song led by music teacher, Peg Kallman. The guest speaker was Mr. Bill Williams, who along with his wife were named the Omaha World Herald "Midlanders of the Year" for 2013. They organized and planned many "honor flights" for both WWII and Korean veterans to Washington, D.C. He informed the assembly of the generosity of several donors for the flights, which included Dan Whitney better known as Larry, the Cable Guy.
Max Poe, a veteran of the U. S. Army, ended the assembly with the playing of Taps. All was well as students were dismissed for the weekend and the veterans and their families enjoyed refreshments after being honored for serving our nation.
For more photos from the assembly click here.