Revere pays tribute to veterans

by Laura Bednar

Revere High School students and first-graders from Richfield Elementary participated in the Nov. 10 Veterans Day program, celebrating with a breakfast, presentations and musical tributes.

The day began with a breakfast for veterans and their families, followed by a presentation from the first-graders, who sang three songs and read two poems recognizing military personnel for their service and thanking them for being “brave and strong.” Students gave each veteran a treat bag and handmade thank-you card.

Servicemen and women were met with applause as they entered the gymnasium for the high school portion of the program. The Richfield Police and Fire color guard presented the colors and the high school choir sang “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The Revere orchestra played “America the Beautiful” followed by a presentation from members of the Revere Players, who honored prisoners of war, soldiers missing in action and those who did not return home.

The guest speaker was Lt. Col. Shawn McKee, a retired Marine Corps member who spent 20 years in the military. His deployments included Okinawa, Somalia, Kuwait and Iraq. McKee was also assigned to support the development of the MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft and the Presidential Helicopter Program.

His final deployment was as the executive officer for the 11th MEU Aviation Combat Element HMM-166 in support of the global war on terrorism. He and his wife Andrea have five children, two of whom graduated from Revere and another who is a current Revere High School student.

McKee broke down his speech into the following segments: ball cap, loss, gift, care and get dirty. Many veterans today wear ball caps representing their military branch as a source of pride. McKee emphasized that it takes extensive training before being deployed, oftentimes in other countries, which takes military members away from their families.

He said he lost many fellow servicemen over the years, and it “could have been any [veteran] in the audience.”

Freedom is a gift, said McKee, and that freedom allows for opportunity. “It’s the little choices that set the trajectory of our lives,” he said.

The concept of caring and getting dirty go hand in hand for McKee, who said caring about something or someone leads to action, whether it is having a difficult conversation or ensuring everyone in the school feels welcomed. “To be a leader is synonymous with service,” he said. “Look after each other.”

High school Principal Andy Peltz echoed this message, saying that students can make a difference as leaders if they “do the little things well and with intentionality.” ∞

Lt. Col. Shawn McKee stands with his wife, Andrea, after speaking about his time with the Marines. Photo by Laura Bednar.

Richfield Elementary students pose with area veterans after singing songs thanking them for their service. Photo by Laura Bednar.

Veterans entered the gymnasium and were met with applause from Revere High School students. Photo by Laura Bednar.

Members of the Revere Wind Ensemble played the song for each branch of the military and veterans were asked to stand as they heard their song. Photo by Laura Bednar.

Photo (main/above): Veterans and their families (l-r) Jerry Lehky, Navy; Dave McCann, Army; Mary Alice Lehky; and Daniel Schlayer, Navy, enjoyed breakfast as part of the program. Photo by Laura Bednar.