EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio - Dozens of East Cleveland students with family members serving in the military were honored during a ceremony at Heritage Middle School Friday.
“It's pretty hard, but I learned to get over it, and when he gets back, that's the best feeling,” said 5th grader Arielle DuVall, whose father just left home for a year-long Army deployment. “The one place they can't leave is our hearts and we must remember that.”
“I think that he inspired me because I want to be in the Navy, but he also helped others, and I think that's a really big change, and I'm very proud of him,” DuVall said.
This was the 7th year for the annual American Military Families Award Ceremony.
Each student wrote an essay about the importance of honoring military members. DuVall’s entry, about her experience with her dad, was among those honored with an award.
There were also several district staff members who are veterans in attendance, including Spanish teacher Sharon Brown-Hummer.
“They reminisce about what occurred with the loved ones and the students are very, very proud,” she said.
U.S. Army Reserve Chief Warrant Officer William Matlock was the featured speaker and shared his experience serving in the military and being deployed overseas twice.
“It's just tough being taken away from your family, but in the end result we can be safe here in this country,” Matlock said.
East Cleveland City Schools Board of Education Vice President Eve Westbrooks said she began the ceremony after the Obama Administration called on local communities to honor military members.
“This gives them a chance to put their emotions in writing and maybe some emotions they haven't shared with others,” Westbrooks said.