(From left) Kaelon Connolly, Lily Richards, Tucker Johnson, and their teacher, assembly organizer, and United States Navy Veteran Kristen Joblon. Photo submitted.

Sheffield Hosts Assembly to Honor Veterans

November 12, 2023

SHEFFIELD, Pa. – From coast to coast, Americans of all ages have spent the last several days honoring those who have served to protect the freedoms of everyone in the past, present, and future.

Friday afternoon at Sheffield High School was no different, as the youth of the Heart of the Allegheny took time out of their school day to show appreciation for the Veterans in their lives and the community.

For the second year, Sheffield teacher Kristen Joblon, who was an Airman in the United States Navy, organized the Veterans Day assembly with the help of her students and local veterans.

“It’s important that the children are the ones that put the assembly on,” said Joblon. “I can tell them that the military is important and that there are sacrifices made, but unless they see it like they did on Friday then I think it’s hard for them to really grasp the sacrifices of our veterans.”

Three of Joblon’s 8th graders, Lily Richards, Kaelon Connolly, and Tucker Johnson, were selected to read their letters to Veterans at the assembly.

“In my mind, I’m proud to be in a family of a Veteran, but it makes me sad to think about all the stuff they went through,” said Johnson.

Johson’s Grandmother served in the Navy during Vietnam. In his letter, Johnson acknowledged the difficulties and absence of public respect for Vietnam Veterans after the war, highlighting the importance of appreciating Veterans in various ways from letters to assemblies to thanking them in person.

Connolly’s grandfather, also a Navy Veteran during Vietnam, served on the USS America. Connolly stated in her letter that this country hasn’t seen and probably will never understand the true level of sacrifice of our Veterans.

“It really means a lot to me, knowing my grandpa is sitting there watching me from the crowd,” said Connolly. “It is a good feeling. Although I was very nervous, I did it for a reason. I did it for my papa.”

Richards’ family is filled with Veterans, including two uncles, an aunt, two cousins, and her father who earned a Purple Heart from time served along the Syrian border. In Richards letter, she expressed her pride in her father’s service and accomplishments, as well as joy that her class was able to put on this assembly for them.

“It means a lot to me,” said Richards. “It makes a family member happy that you recognize what they have done not only for their country but also for their family.”

Former United States Army Sergeant Gary Fry spoke to Sheffield students Friday during the school’s Veterans Day assembly. Photo submitted.

Along with the 8th grade students, Gary Fry was Sheffield’s guest speaker. Fry served in the United States Army as a Sergeant and Squad Leader of combat engineers, where they took care of mines, booby traps, and more during Vietnam. Fry was also an AmVet National Commander.

“I think it’s important that children learn about the sacrifices that military members make and that their family members make because of their service,” said Joblon of the Sheffield students listening to Fry and being in the presence of other Veteran guests in attendance.

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