As Maclay School’s fourth annual Veterans Day parade took place, the patriotic day was filled with music, fun and festivities, but the true meaning behind Veterans Day was not lost. On Nov. ninth, classes were stopped to welcome and honor veterans as a tribute to the men and women who have selflessly served in the US military. In the spirit of the One School initiative, Maclay students, teachers and faculty from all grade levels and offices stopped what they were doing to line the hallways and pay respects to the veterans closest to the community.
Vessie McAlarney from the Maclay Community Association (MCA) organized the event, which entailed coordinating with various offices in part of a huge team effort. The Advancement office arranged the program and coordinated performances within the school, Mr. David Low helped students record video messages for the guests and Mr. Jim arranged refreshments. The MCA committee placed flags with the help of the maintenance office around campus a few days prior to the event to welcome veterans.
“Some of the rewards [of being the chair of the Veterans Day committee] are being touched by the stories of our Maclay community and getting to know a new aspect of our friends’, faculty and staff’s lives,” McAlarney said. “One example was a boy from pre-K three whose mom carried a framed picture of her father, a veteran, who passed away the week before. Talking about war is something that many servicemen and women are reluctant to do. Maybe this event will prompt them to share more of their stories with their loved ones.”
McAlarney’s commitment to honoring the Maclay community runs deeper than her service to the school because of her personal connections to the holiday itself.
“It was a great honor for me to honor the veterans in the Maclay community,” McAlarney said. “Veterans Day is a reminder of the price of peace. My husband is a US Army veteran. Our fourth grade son, Dougie, is very proud of his dad and wants to follow in his footsteps. My husband was stationed in Berlin during the Fall of the Berlin Wall and communism in 1989. It was a double commemoration for our family on the day of the Veterans Parade as November ninth marked the anniversary of the Fall. My husband and I were on opposite sides of the ‘Iron Curtain’ and met because freedom and capitalism prevailed over communism in the ‘Cold War.’ I grew up in Eastern Europe under communism. Virtually all men in my grandparents’ generation participated in WWII as the region was in the theater of war.”
The parade has become a tradition for Maclay families. The May family has multiple children and households at Maclay so they come together to honor their grandfather at the parade every year.
“My grandpa fought in the Vietnam war and received the purple heart along with other medals,” senior Lawre Bradley May said. “My entire family is very grateful for the sacrifice he made for us and our country. We always love getting to honor him on Veterans Day.”
Beyond how special the parade is for the students, the veterans in the parade are honored to experience the gratitude from the students.
“I like to see how much my grandpa enjoys it,” L. May said. “He loves getting to come and walk with all of his grandchildren. I love seeing how happy it makes him.”
While Veterans Day allows a break from school, the true meaning and value of the holiday lives on through the representation in the parade.
“The wisdom that they [the men in my family] imparted on us was that anything can be endured but war,” McAlarney said. “As time and space separate today’s America from past or present wars, celebrating the veterans near and dear to us reminds us of the huge sacrifice asked of them and makes us think about the causes they are asked to put their lives on the line for.”