Students Initiate New Veterans Day Traditions

Photos+of+veterans+submitted+by+students+and+faculty+adorn+the+cafetoriums+bulletin+board.+Two+students+started+a+new+project+to+commemorate+Veterans+Day+within+the+school+community.

Emily M. '22

Photos of veterans submitted by students and faculty adorn the cafetorium’s bulletin board. Two students started a new project to commemorate Veterans Day within the school community.

Veterans Day marks a time to remember those who have served in the United States military. While many institutions and organizations recognize veterans in their own ways annually, two students noted that the school does not carry out any Veterans Day traditions. The students decided to change that by putting together a bulletin board and planting flags to honor service members, both past and present.

Senior Molly Grant and junior Brie Kindig were the ones behind the bulletin board project that they both said they hope will become an annual tradition. Together they compiled a list of names and photographs of veterans that students and faculty wanted to remember via an online form.

“We’ve never really even seen anything for our Veterans Day, so we were like, ‘Oh, let’s do something to honor them,’” Kindig said.

Grant said the inspiration for the project came after learning about Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki, a 2001 alumna who served in the Air Force. She was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician who deployed to Iraq in 2007. Only 23 years old, Loncki was killed in action while defusing a bomb in Baghdad, becoming the first woman from Delaware to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pictures of Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki, Class of 2001, sit at the top of the display. “She represents the school and I feel like we all represent her,” Brie Kindig ’23 said. (Emily M. ’22)

Upon hearing Loncki’s story, like Kindig, Grant said she wanted to do something about the school’s lack of Veterans Day traditions. She has experience in serving local veterans, having volunteered with Wreaths Across America at Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, where Loncki is buried.

“Especially because we have an alumni who has served and died in combat, I just thought it’d be a good idea,” Grant said.

Kindig explained that putting the board together involved dealing with frustrations and overcoming challenges. Even though it is just “one little thing,” she said, the final result was worth the struggle.

“The project actually took about two and a half to three hours of trying to figure [it] out,” she said. “… [D]espite ripping the paper and all of our challenges and getting frustrated at each other, we still worked together.”

History teacher Dr. Hall chose to honor three generations of veterans in her family: her grandfather, father, and sister. She and her husband were looking through photographs of the veterans when Kindig and Grant asked the community for submissions.

“When the email came out, I was like, ‘I could send these right now,’ so I think I was probably the first person to respond because I have them kind of ready,” Hall said.

While she tries to educate her son about their family members’ work, Hall said that she still may never know everything about their actions. But what Hall does know is some of what her younger sister, Shannon Rafferty, did on her 2015 deployment to Afghanistan. Rafferty spent most of her six months there at the “huge” Bagram Air Base, working alongside not only Americans, but also Afghan civilians and soldiers from around the world.

“She was actually an Army Band member so she wasn’t doing patrols,” Hall said. “She was playing music and she’s like, “Yeah, we would jam out with the soldiers from Kosovo.’”

Hall said it was “cool” to see pictures of veterans in other families and to celebrate a former service member in the building, Air Force veteran Mrs. Powers.

Kindig explained that while pictures submitted by students will change each year, those from faculty and staff members may remain the same. With Grant graduating this year, Kindig said she hopes to continue the tradition herself as a senior.

Molly Grant ’22 hangs a picture of her father Brian Grant, an Army veteran. “I’ve always looked up to my dad and my great-grandfather who have served, so I hope to make them proud,” she said of her plans to join the military. (Emily M. ’22)

“I think it did touch on some teachers and students who had relatives and honoring them in a way that… when they come into the cafeteria, whether they’re looking at it or not, it’s still up there honoring [veterans],” Kindig said.

Both Kindig and Grant have multiple family members who are veterans, and they each also expressed interest in joining the military themselves one day. All the men on Grant’s paternal side have served, and she expressed interest in joining the Army or the Marines.

“I’ve always just wanted to help people, and even if someone doesn’t support the military, I’ll still risk my life for them,” Grant said. “[I] just always wanted to make an impact on our country because I love America.”

For Kindig, joining the military is also an option because she wants to protect equality for all people, which she said “is a struggle today.” At least six of her family members are veterans, including her great-grandfather who served in World War II.

“The Pledge of Allegiance says liberty and freedom… for all, meaning for everyone who is in America,” she said, “and I feel like that goes really good with equality, too.”