NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. --
Newfane Elementary and Middle School students hosted a military luncheon for local veterans and active military, including members of the 914th Airlift Wing.
The luncheon started with a recitation of the pledge of allegiance led by the elementary students, who followed with a performance of various songs and poems, all expressing their gratitude for those who have served.
The performances were followed by lunch whereby the students took each guest’s order and served them their meal and dessert.
This has been an annual occurrence for the past nine years. It was started by Virginia Bower, a special education teacher at Newfane Elementary. Her father served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and she believes that it’s for the students' benefit to have this opportunity.
"I feel that it is important for our students to learn about the military and all of the impacts that they have made on our own lives," said Bower. "It is important for students to learn about compassion, gratitude, and respect towards others and this event is a great way to encompass all of this."
Among those in attendance was Master Sgt. Hillary Ornat, Development and Training Flight Instructor for the 914 AW. She’s responsible for training new enlistees before they go to Basic Training.
“It’s great for these kids to get exposure to the older veterans because it won’t be long until that generation is gone,” said Ornat. “Their experience is so different from ours. They paved the way for us.”
The luncheon has become a bit of a tradition for members of the base, and one that will hopefully continue for years to come.