The children of Troy had an opportunity to experience the heroism of the past in living color as veterans shared remarkable stories of sacrifice at their schools in celebration of Veteran’s Day. The administrations at Van Cleve Elementary and Troy Christian planned special programming for veterans from the community to interact with students and receive recognition for their service to the United States of America.

Van Cleve Elementary hosted its 11th annual veteran’s breakfast at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, November 9th with a ceremony honoring veterans at 9:30 a.m.. Mayor Beamish led the Pledge of Allegiance that morning and shared the importance of respecting those who have fought to defend our freedom.

The ceremony included patriotic pieces played and sung by students followed by remarks from 92-year-old World War II, D-Day paratrooper, Joe Brower of Troy. According to Van Cleve intervention specialist and Air Force veteran,Ted Wiegman, “Joe brought the house down. The tears flow like crazy when he speaks.” Vivid descriptions of D-Day had attendees imagining the heavy backpacks, thick smoke, and bodies littering the shores of Normandy on the U.S. troops’ final march to victory.

Another address by a former Vietnam helicopter pilot, Bob Allen, was punctuated by a surprise revelation on the morning of November 9th. Martin Gibson, father of 6th grade student Taylor Gibson, stood and thanked Bob Allen for flying the helicopter that rescued his father, George, during the Vietnam conflict. Martin Gibson would never have been born had it not been for Allen’s bravery, flying in to save troops amid heavy fire. Gibson was conceived after the war.

“Everyone was holding their breath in that moment,” Wiegman and other attendees claimed. The hush in the room was followed by a standing ovation and a warm hug between Allen and Gibson.

Emotion and gratitude continued to flow at Troy Christian during their 14th annual Veteran’s Day chapel in the high school gymnasium on November 11th at 12:30 p.m.. Music from the 5th and 6th grade children’s choir and multi-media presentations all centered around the theme “Freedom is not free.” Elementary and high school students were all in attendance for the event. Superintendent Gary Wilbur fought tears as he thanked the more than 70 veterans who lined up around the gymnasium and represented a relationship with a student or students attending Troy Christian. Al Mulder, a United States veteran, who grew up in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation, presented the afternoon’s address. In a gripping story, he told of how his parents risked everything, including their lives and lives of their five children, to hide and protect Jews fleeing Nazi imprisonment or death. Later, when his family moved to Piqua, Ohio, Mulder served in the U.S. armed forces out of respect and love for the troops who helped to liberate his home country.

According to Troy Christian elementary school principal, Amy Long, “No matter how you feel about war, our kids need to know that someone pays a price for our freedom and we need to respect those who lay down their lives to protect our lives.”

Even the youngest children in attendance at the Veteran’s Day celebration, the Kindergarten class, quietly sat for an hour during the chapel honoring veterans. “Our four core values at Troy Christian are respect, responsibility, gratitude, and genuineness,” Long said. “We feel like the Veteran’s Day is the best way to show respect and gratitude to people who have literally given their lives to support our freedom and our right to be here, to pray, and to worship God.”