Veterans Day celebration honors past, present and future heroes
Veterans Day celebration honors past, present and future heroes
Posted on 11/08/2016
Girl in traditional red dress gives paper poppy as gift to two veterans

West Utica Elementary students celebrated community veterans with an eye toward to the future.

“One day, some of you young people will be asked to serve and I want to say ‘thank you' ahead of time," said William Dobbie,  of VFW Post 4659. “I know you will folks will be there just as were there in the past.”

For the 28th straight year, West Utica Elementary students honored the veterans from every conflict since World War II with songs, words and a special gift during the hour-long celebration.

This year, students presented veterans with a paper “poppy” they made in class to honor a historical legacy from World War I.

Third grader Abigail Werner, dressed in a century-old red dress, told a packed gymnasium that students learned the legend of an American teacher who created the idea of selling silk poppies as a means of raising funds to assist disabled veterans.

“Poppies are a symbol for the soldiers so that we never forget,” said Werner, who portrayed the real “Poppy Lady,” Moina Belle Michael. 

Speaking as a veteran, retired West Utica teacher Tom Gwisdalla told students veterans at the event would "do it all over again" if they could go back in time. 

“I served this country because this country has been good to me and my family,” Gwisdalla said. 

Principal Bradley Suggs told students that veterans fought to protect their right to a quality education.

“They didn’t even know who you were, but the veterans put their life on the line so you could be here today,” he said.