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Kids show appreciation of veterans

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 10:19 p.m.
Yankee Drummer James Smith of the Armbrust Veterans Association leads Girl Scout Troop 21086 during a flag raising ceremony at H.W. Good Elementary School in Herminie. Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review

After the Veterans Day program was over at H.W. Good Elementary School last Thursday, Bruce Plassio of Herminie asked his grandson, 9-year-old Jesse Plassio, if he had been nervous.

During the program, in its fifth year at the Yough school, each grade performed a song. For the third-grader, it was an Armed Forces medley with a mouthful of words he had memorized.

Jesse gave a little nod and answered yes to his grandfather's question.

Bruce Plassio, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War era, said even with his grandson's nerves, he was glad the program served not only as an appreciation but also as a learning opportunity.

“The teachers certainly put some time in to it to help our grandkids growing up understanding a little bit about life,” he said.

H.W. Good third-grade teacher Leann Steban, who organized the Yough elementary program with first-grade teacher Stephanie Bogac, said she has made an effort to show students just how many veterans are in the community.

“I think it's important for them to understand what a veteran is and how they have fought for us and the freedoms of our country,” she said. “Sometimes, they're just not recognized.”

Herminie Girl Scout Troop 21086 and Armbrust veteran James Smith, portraying a Civil War drummer, led the flag ceremony before Gail Macioce of North Huntingdon led the National Anthem. In addition to each grade's song, individual students presented historical information on Veterans Day, the Purple Heart, each branch of the service, the Department of Veterans Affairs seal and the American flag.

During her introduction to the program, Bogac emphasized the importance of the holiday.

“We recognize that all of our veterans have given something of themselves, and some have paid the ultimate sacrifice and given all,” she said.

Volunteers served coffee to the veterans beforehand and lunch to them afterward.

Dakota Cross, 9, wearing patriotic colors and her Girl Scout Brownie vest, planted a kiss on the cheek of her great-grandfather Alan Criswell, 79, of Elizabeth Township, after the service while he waited for lunch in the library.

Criswell, who served in the Navy on a destroyer during the Korean War, said he is glad the students have been learning about the military because his service was meant to uphold the freedom of Americans.

“That's the reason we sacrificed what we did — so they could go to Henry Good School,” he said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or