OTTAWA — SS. Peter & Paul Catholic School students in Ottawa honored veterans Friday through song and serving breakfast.
The program, in its second year, involved kindergarten through second grades as well as the school’s leadership students. Veterans Day is Monday.
SS. Peter & Paul Church Father Matthew Jozefiak led Mass with prayer and communion attended by the students, their parents and relatives who were veterans as well as members of Ottawa American Legion and Ottawa Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9142. SS. Peter & Paul students sang songs and played guitars to honor the veterans during Mass.
He said his mother lost a brother in World War II, and his father served in the war.
“We honor these men and women who answered the call to service. I hope they realize we appreciate their service and what they have done and fought the good fight for freedom of our country.”
Connie Niese, St. Peter and Paul principal, said it is important for students to learn about history.
“They need to learn about veterans and the job of service by their grandparents,” Niese said.
There was then a veterans program at the cafeteria were students wore patriotic hats and sang song such as “God Bless The USA” and “God Bless America.”
Morgan Zimmerly, an eighth grader, said her great-grandfather was in the Korean War and her other great-grandfather was a doctor during the Korean War.
“It’s important to honor our veterans because they worked for our freedoms,” Zimmerly said. She said she enjoyed hearing the veterans stories and socializing with them.
Gary Buckland, VFW Post 9142 commander, said 18 members of the post attended.
“We hope the children learn that duty to our country is a privilege and not a right. Not everyone is called to serve or does serve, but those who have served consider it an honor,” Buckland said. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1974 to 1978 aboard a nuclear-powered cruiser.
James Maas, Ottawa VFW member, served from 1968 to 1970 in the U.S. Army as a sergeant and squad leader in the infantry. He was wounded, spending 31 days in the hospital and earning two Purple Hearts. He served in Vietnam in 1969.
He watched his two grandchildren perform in the program with the other students.
“I hope the students learn that freedom is not free. I’m proud of watching my grandchildren perform and glad to be here,” Maas said.
He said he remembers a lot of his friends from the war who did not return home.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.