Students throughout Marietta offer a salute to veterans

Photo by Janelle Patterson Kindergarten students at Harmar Elementary add gestures to the song “This Land is Your Land.”

MARIETTA — Musical tributes and speakers citing courage and dedication met veterans invited into Marietta City Schools Friday.

Mohamed Ismail, 15, of Devola, spoke before the filled auditorium at Marietta High School about what the American Flag represents to him and the nation. But before he sat down he also extended a personal thanks to a personal role model in the crowd.

“Robert Pioli and his wife Roberta are my neighbors,” he explained after the auditorium stood in applause of the World War II veteran. “I’ve known him as long as I can remember, since we moved onto the circle and I love them. They’ve always watched over me. So last night I went over to their house for about an hour and invited them to be here today.”

Ismail said he looks up to Pioli for how the man has lived his life after being held as a prisoner of war.

“He gave me his biography and I’m still reading it, but I’ve learned a lot from him,” the sophomore explained. “He’s just the guy, you know? He not only fought in war but also came home, had a career and raised a great family. He’s the guy.”

Photo by Janelle Patterson Marietta High School’s Vocal Point, performs the song “Home” during the school’s Veterans Day assembly Friday.

Robert and Roberta Pioli said they were thrilled to attend the assembly, though Robert suffered a fall afterwards.

“But Mohamed, we just adore him,” said Roberta as her husband was resting Friday afternoon. “Wasn’t it so kind for him to invite us?”

Washington County Veteran Service Officer Chad Wright, who also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, attended both the high school assembly and an assembly held at Harmar School, where both his children attend. He said he was impressed with the music shared at the events.

“It’s nice what the kids and schools do for veterans,” he said. “And that high school choir (Vocal Point), they did an excellent job.”

Wright also collected from Harmar School handwritten letters and drawings from students to be distributed during a Veterans Day luncheon today at the Masonic Lodge.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Phillip’s Elementary fifth graders perform the preamble to the U.S. Constitution in American Sign Language.

At Harmar, each grade sang a different patriotic song to the veterans and those on active duty who were invited to the assembly. Those who have served in the armed forces were asked to introduce themselves and also the Harmar student or teacher who invited them. In the crowd were 19 veterans and active duty members.

“Plus we have the students bring in these stars representing all friends and family they know who have served or are currently serving,” explained Principal Cheryl Cook. “Then those stars go on these banners from each of the classes and we’ll keep them up to remember the costs of freedom.”

At Phillips Elementary an assembly was held also with music, stars and recognition of each branch of service.

Justin Zheng, 10, of Marietta, and Kyleigh McKitrick, 11, of Marietta, were among the fifth grade students who learned the preamble to the U.S. Constitution and presented it in American Sign Language.

“We wanted to thank the veterans, and the preamble and constitution is what they used to protect us,” said McKitrick.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Stars on a banner at Harmar Elementary signify the men and women students and teachers know who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“We practiced it each day and I got used to it because we had a piece of paper showing every step,” added Zheng. “I liked all of the signs.”

Meanwhile the school’s first grade class described the meaning behind the white table, symbolic of those who have served in arms and passed away.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Phillips Elementary School’s first grade class explains Friday the symbolism of America’s White Table during a Veterans Day assembly.