WHS Shows Gratitude to Veterans with Moving Assembly

November 14, 2014

by Jillian DiPersio, Windham High School Intern

On Thursday, Nov. 6, the Windham High School Chapter of the National Honor Society presented their second annual “Tribute to Veterans” assembly to the student body in honor of Veterans Day. A small committee of students working under the supervision of NHS co-adviser Lisa Roeder organized the event, inviting veterans from the American Legion as well as the town Police and Fire departments.

Before the assembly the honored guests were invited into the Media Center for a breakfast with doughnuts generously donated by Klemm’s Bakery. The veterans spoke with NHS students about their travels and adventures over coffee and doughnuts as students thanked them for their service.

The ceremony itself took place during the students’ advisory period. The assembly began with an opening address, given by senior and member of NHS, Siddhart Agarwal. Agarwal led the student body in the Pledge of Allegiance as the Salem High School Air Force Junior ROTC, under the direction of Major James Blazak, presented the colors. The WHS choir, directed by Shelia Cuneo, sang the national anthem.

Windham High School’s Resource Officer, Greg Iworsky, was the keynote speaker at the event. Students saw Officer Iworsky in a different light as he donned formal military attire and introduced himself as Sergeant Iworsky, “a machine gunner with 25th Marines, Bravo Company, weapons platoon.” Sgt. Iworsky explained that the reason he serves is because “I love America, what it stands for and what we do for the world. We fight for peace and democracy and for those who cannot fight for themselves. We are the sheep dogs protecting the sheep from the wolves. We fight and have fought for all of you, so that you can come to school to learn and in hopes that you will do something great with your lives and that you will never have to fight.”

Sgt. Iworsky delivered a moving speech, leaving students with a powerful message: “All veterans deserve our utmost gratitude. You may not support the war, but always support the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who fight in it. Freedom is not free. It comes at a high cost.”

The speech was followed by a video put together by WHS senior Nikita Kuchipudi. The video presentation highlighted photographs of veterans connected to Windham, including students’ and teachers’ family members, Windham police officers and firefighters, as well as six WHS alumni. The ceremony closed with the singing of “America the Beautiful” by the WHS choir and the Windham third graders, the “Junior Jags.”

Madeline Riese, senior at WHS and member of the NHS committee that put on the event, said Sgt. Iworsky’s speech “was really beautiful, very touching.” She added that talking with the veterans before and after the assembly “was a special experience because you don’t always get to talk to people that have had those experiences and have been in those situations. It kind of lends perspective.” Likewise, WHS junior Erinne Curtain, member of JROTC, believes “it was a very beautiful ceremony” for the veterans and added, “We (in JROTC) hope to do it again next year.”

NHS co-adviser, Lisa Roeder, explained, “The duties and challenges of a soldier can seem very distant to all of us, not just adolescents.” For Roeder and the students in NHS, the Veterans Day assembly “is a way to give a very sincere thank you to these brave and patriotic men and women.” Officer Iworsky explained that Veterans Day “is a time to reflect on the heroes that chose to be a part of something bigger then themselves. We chose to fight for our country in foreign battlefields to keep America free.”

If you would like to support our veterans, Officer Iworsky has designed red WHS T-shirts and sweatshirts through Red Shirt Fridays in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. “As some of you might have noticed I wear a red shirt on Fridays. That’s because every Friday is RED Friday. RED stands for Remember Everyone Deployed,” explained Iworsky. Red Shirt Fridays is an organization, which, in its mission, states, “We wish to let our servicemen and servicewomen know we support their sacrifice and that we will not forget them; we will do this by wearing red every Friday.” To purchase a custom WHS red shirt, visit http://www.gruntstyle.com/custom-shirts/gs-limited/Windham-High.