FRONTENAC — Frontenac students gathered in their gym to honor veterans on Friday.

On each of the veterans’ seats was a card, each handmade by the elementary students.

Students at the front of the gym, led by the school’s music department, sang “Oh Say Can You See,” after the Pledge of Allegiance and the Veterans from Frontenac’s American Legion ran color guard.  

After a brief history lesson, presented by Superintendent Rick Simoncic, guest speaker Marine Sgt. Caleb Linn, who received a Purple Heart, shared a brief excerpt the inaugural address of President Kennedy of 1961.

“The key word I want to impart to you is liberty,” Linn said. “He didn’t say protect the United States of America, he said protect liberty because liberty is a human right that belongs to every individual on Earth.

“If you live and breathe and walk on this Earth you deserve freedom, you deserve equality.”

Linn told the students liberty is the power to do what one pleases — power of choice, one of the most important privileges we have as Americans, he said.

“I want you guys to remember when you pledge allegiance to the flag it's not just something you just recite,” he said to the students. “You are actually pledging allegiance to the conscience of the United States of America — everything this country stands for — liberty, justice, equality for all.

“Everything in the preamble of the constitution is what that flag embodies and that's why as veterans, these people sitting before you today and those among the crowd, that's why we hold that flag with dear and great value of respect.”

Linn said liberty, the internet, clean water a roof over the students’ heads were given by a country which allows it, and because the veterans sacrifice these freedoms continue to exist.

“What is sacrifice?”  he said. “Sacrifice is when you forfeit all desires and ambitions to a cause that is greater than you.”

Then, the choir paid tribute to each veteran, by singing each military branch’s song — the veterans were asked to stand when their branch’s song played.

A special tribute and honor was given to Frontenac School Math Teacher Jerry Arthurs who was in the U.S. Army and this year marks 50 years of dedication to education for Arthurs.

“I was surprised,” he said.  

Frontenac Junior High Principal Mike Martin said they selected Arthurs because he is one of the only veterans in the school and he said Arthurs is an extraordinary person and should be recognized.

After the assembly, guests were welcomed to visit the elementary hall in front of Fourth Grade Teacher Phyllis Smith’s classroom, where four bulletin boards were filled with photographs of Frontenac High School graduate military veterans.  

Smith said she plans to continue to collect photographs of the school’s veterans. She said people can email a photograph with the person’s name, branch of military, when they served and the year he or she graduated from Frontenac High School to psmith@frontenac249.org, or submissions can be left at the elementary school office.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.