EGHS salutes service at 6th annual Veterans Day assembly

Hailey Gray, Staff Reporter

When Franklin King, a Vietnam War veteran returned home from battle, his experiences back in the states were anything but welcoming.

“The fact that we got treated better in Vietnam than we did upon returning to America really was a heartbreaking realization,” he said. “We exited off the airplane and people literally started immediately throwing eggs at us.”

It’s stories from veterans like these that make Elk Grove social studies teacher Stephanie Kezios enjoy hosting the annual Veterans Day assembly even more.

“I want the staff and students to not only walk away with a higher appreciation for the sacrifice that these veterans have made, but also a greater understanding of American values and defending liberty,” Kezios said.

Elk Grove hosted its sixth annual Veterans Day assembly in the gymnasium on Nov. 8. This year, Elk Grove hosted more than 100 veterans at the assembly, which is the highest attendance mark in the assembly’s history, according to Kezios.

“Each year, more people are starting to reach out to me, so I’m thinking the next year and years after are just going to keep growing in numbers while word continues to spread through the community,” Kezios said.

Kezios plans and organizes the assembly where staff and students gather to show their appreciation that these veterans deserve, which many like King did not receive after returning from war.

With the help of Leadership Through Service students and others who volunteered their time, the veterans arrived in the morning to a room of strong discussion, laughter and a homemade breakfast to top it all off.

“It’s so inspiring to see these people who sacrificed their lives for our country so that we can not only be free, but also feel safe,” student volunteer Allie Malartsik said.

Not only is the celebration enjoyable for the students involved, but Kezios also said the feedback received from the veterans is positive and thankful responses.

The assembly’s format remains mostly the same from year to year, but each one holds a different theme that the day revolves around. This year, the assembly focused on minority involvement in the armed forces.

Elk Grove had the honor of hosting Raja Krishnamoorthi this year, a member of the United States House of Representatives who shared his appreciation for those who served in the armed forces.

He said that the current generation of students can be the change this country needs, and he ended his speech saying, “The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”

Also at the assembly, two EGHS students were acknowledged for winning the 2019-2020 Mark Evans Patriotic Senior Scholarship Award. Students Paolo Losacco and Zachary Eugene were awarded with $1,000 from the VFW, which will go toward their postsecondary tuition. They received the honor after expressing their thoughts on patriotism in an essay themed “What Makes America Great.”

“It’s such an honor to have spread my patriotism and be awarded with this scholarship,” recipient Losacco said.