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Briar students thank veterans

Alissa Widman Neese • Dec 4, 2013 at 9:52 PM

At times, heat sweltered to 140 degrees. An enemy attack was a constant threat. She was one of few women on her forward operating base, and at times didn’t have access to a shower, cooked food or a roof above her head.

Despite all this, a band on her wrist reminds Peters she was one of the lucky ones.

It’s worn in memory of Kevin Balduf, a friend and fellow U.S. Marine who didn’t make it home.

“He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing,” said Peters, a seven-year Marine. “And the reason I strive to be the best I can be any day I’m in the Marine Corps”

Peters shared her story at Briar Middle School’s fifth annual “Patriotic Day” assembly this past Tuesday, a program aiming to celebrate the area’s rich military tradition and thank military men and women for their sacrifices.

The event coincides with Thanksgiving because its ultimate goal is to express gratitude, said Marla Thomas, a teacher who spearheaded the effort this year.

In addition to Peters, whose cousin is a Briar Middle School sixth-grader, other guest speakers included Chris Weyer, a member of a local quilting group, and Sherrie Clark, a wood carver who is part of Ohio’s Fallen Feather Project.

The quilting group sends their cozy creations, containing letters, to military members overseas.

The Fallen Feather project, meanwhile, aspires to carve a wooden feather in memory of every Ohio soldier killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, for a permanent art display.

“We really focused on the community service aspect this year” Thomas said. “We wanted the kids to see different ways they can help too, even if it’s something as simple as writing a letter”

Retired Perkins Schools teacher Dave McDowell concluded the assembly singing a rendition of “God Bless the USA” while playing piano. “Patriotic Day” also included an armed forces salute and choir performances.

After the assembly, Briar Middle School eighth-graders gathered with their honored guests — local veterans and active military members — in the school library. There, they chatted, enjoyed refreshments and gave each guest a handmade card thanking them for their service. They created the cards during writing class.

“It’s our way to thank them for all they did for us and show them how much we care,” eighth-grader Briana Garza said.

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