“I’m glad we could do it,” principal Scott Grange said.
The leadership class put together a special lunch Thursday as a way to express the students’ gratitude to the veterans, either from their immediate family or from the community around the school.
Filled by the crowd of students and more than 100 veterans, families and relatives, the cafeteria was alive with chatter of stories of years gone past. The veterans’ uniforms were a variety of colors and they answered many questions about their service in Vietnam, the Gulf War and other conflicts.
Veteran Danny Waldorf, who served for 30 years from June 1964 to March 1993, said he was visiting his first cousin during the event and it was his third veterans party that day.
“It’s an absolute wonder for those of us retired to talk to kids and try to get them interested in what we do and do for them,” he said.
On a more somber note, Karen Snow sat at the end of a bench with photos of her wedding day framed and displayed in front of her. The photos showed her husband, a sailor who received a bronze star for saving the life of his crew members and the integrity of the F-18 plane he flew when he was killed in an unfortunate accident a year and a half ago.
“He couldn’t have lived without the Navy,” Snow said, tears in her eyes. “He was red, white and blue all over.”
Mike Murphy, who was invited by student Michael Vanderventer, 12, served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1971.
“It’s really nice,” he said. “I’ve never had anything like this, and the kids are awesome. I also met a lot of other vets.”
He said he was able to swap stories with them.
“If you don’t talk to the old vets, you don’t know,” he said. “Freedom is not free and sometimes you have to fight for it.”