Brown School held a music-filled Veterans Day assembly on Nov. 9 honoring friends, family and community members who have or are currently serving in the military. 

A “welcome veterans” banner at the Brown School. Photo taken by Cassandra Abel.

Students from kindergarten through eighth grade performed songs and dance, with some accompaniment in sign language to show their appreciation to the veterans and their families. 

Students perform song and dance at the Brown School. Photo taken by Cassandra Abel.

From “You’re a Grand Ole Flag” from kindergarteners to “Thankful for the U.S.A.” from third and fourth graders to “Thank you, Soldiers” from fifth and sixth graders to ending the ceremony with “We Appreciate You” from all grades, the veterans weren’t just told they were appreciated, they felt it through song lyrics and the voices singing the words. 

Children perform songs for veterans at the 2023 Veterans Day assembly at the Brown School. Photo taken by Cassandra Abel.

The school created a slideshow presentation, showcasing all the veterans in students’ and faculties’ lives. Some veterans highlighted in the slideshow were present at the event.

Students also handed out bracelets to the veterans in the audience based on each branch. There were four people from the Army, three from the Air Force, five from the Marines, six from the Navy, and one from the Coast Guard. 

There were also two guests of honor in attendance at the assembly: Donna Abare, president of the Capital Region Chapter of Blue Star Mothers and John McKenna III, director of the Military Courtesy Room at the Albany Airport. 

The Brown School has been fundraising for the Blue Star Mothers since last week with a “penny walk.” Assistant Head of School Amanda Keil said the students would drop change in a bucket during the penny walk, an organized event that took place during the school day. 

“I am pleased to announce that our students raised over $200,” Keil said. “Please let this donation serve as a reminder of our collective appreciation; thank you for our unwavering strength, and enduring love for your children and our veterans.” 

Students created artwork, thanking veterans for their service and sacrifice. Photo taken by Cassandra Abel.

Abare cried while accepting the donation, saying the efforts will help a lot as the organization puts together the baskets of goods to ship to soldiers from the Capital Region who are away during the holiday.

“I am so honored to accept this donation from these kids because as a mom, we love you kids,” Abare said. “I’m going to get very emotional because my child, who joined the Army, is 34 years old so I just want to say thank you so much, and be happy because over 600 boxes will be going over to our locally-deployed service men and women. This will go a long way.”  

Guest speaker John McKenna III attends the assembly every year. He talked with the students about what it means to thank a veteran for their service and what their service and sacrifice means. 

John McKenna III reminds students to “thank a vet” at the 2023 Veterans Day Assembly. Photo taken by Cassandra Abel.

Thanking vets has always been a part of McKenna’s life. He explained the pins he wore symbolized the people who served in the military close to him: his grandfather, his mother, his father, himself, and his son who died in Iraq. 

“We believe and I still believe that everyone at some point in their life should give back to all the people who help us keep all our freedoms,” McKenna said. “So please, don’t forget, thank a vet.”