St. Gabriel's students honor veterans through song, dance and speech

There was no shortage of young voices giving thanks to veterans Monday morning at Saint Gabriel’s Catholic School.

Whether the tributes were through song, or speech, the meaning remained the same.

“Veterans’ Day should always be celebrated if you have a connection or you don’t,” said Connelley McWilliams, eighth-grader.

McWilliams recited a speech, written by herself and inspired by her grandfather who served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

“I really thought that I owe him with a speech to my school, so I can show everyone how special Veterans’ Day is to me,” she said.

The celebration consisted of songs, speeches, a dance, and also the planting of more flags on school grounds. That is in addition to the 4,000 flags students already planted.

“I think there is a lot of respect and reverence from the students coming out and planting the flags and the students preparing the speeches,” said Annie Harwig, teacher.

“Obviously we have a great nation. I’ve been deployed to several places, and we mean a lot to the world. The United States….we mean freedom to a lot of people,” said John Harwig, Army veteran and lieutenant colonel.

As one of the keynote speakers and Annie Harwig’s father, John Harwig relayed message of gratefulness to the nation's heroes.

“As we start to lose more people from the greatest generation, WWII veterans, I love to get the opportunity to see them again thank them myself for what they have done,” said Harwig.

School administrators say each year the celebration continues to expand and attract more. They hope by putting on celebrations like these, students can learn about the sacrifices made, because freedom is not free.