SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Union Catholic's sixth annual Veterans Day Ceremony was a heartfelt tribute to those who served as the UC Community joined together to honor the sacrifices that veterans have made for their country.
With U.S. flags displayed around the Veterans Memorial Pathway in front of the school and a strong feeling of pride and patriotism in the air, the ceremony, hosted by the UC Hearts For Heroes Club, saluted members of the UC Community who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as alumni, parents, relatives, friends of UC, and all veterans.
The ceremony began when Mr. Tim Breza, who served in the Air Force and moderates Hearts for Heroes, welcomed everyone to the ceremony. Junior Steven Traczik, a Hearts for Heroes member, led in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Senior Tiffany Grovas-Acosta, a peer minister, delivered the opening prayer.
Principal Sister Percylee Hart, RSM, delivered opening remarks and addressed the veterans by thanking them for their patriotism and service. Veterans then walked the Veterans Memorial Pathway to place flowers at the foot of the memorial.
Dr. Karen Piasecki, Associate Principal and 1988 graduate of UC, also spoke. Dr. Piasecki introduced Union Catholic's Performing Arts Company who sang a medley of military anthems that represent each branch of military service. The anthems included "The Caissons Go Rolling Along" (Army), "Anchors Away" (Navy), "Semper Paratus" (Coast Guard), "The Wild Blue Yonder" (Air Force), and "The Marines Hymn" (Marine Corps). These official songs are part of the heritage of each branch of military service and serve as an anthem to rally behind. The UC Performing Arts Company also participated in singing the National Anthem.
The Prayer of the Faithful was led by Ms. Nancy Foulks, UC Class of '76 and Director of Alumni, along with Seniors Madelyn Kemler and Nicole Rada, both peer ministers at UC. Senior and Hearts for Heroes member Kacey Brennan gave closing remarks and the entire audience recited the "Veterans Memorial Blessing" which served as a closing prayer.
Mr. Breza is honored to be a part of this patriotic ceremony each year.
"This all started with the Veterans Memorial Pathway,'' said Mr. Breza. "It was dedicated in 2012 after being built by 2013 UC graduate Michael Eastman, who did it for his Eagle Scout project. "To have the whole school community come together, alumni, faculty, and students to show their thanks and appreciation for the opportunities that veterans provided for us made this a special day. It represented everything that Union Catholic is all about. It embodies every one of our core values, and that's why I look forward to this day every year.''
Steven Traczik, president of Hearts for Heroes, was thankful to have participated in the ceremony.
"It is very important to make time to honor and remember all of the veterans that have served and sacrificed for their country," said Traczik. "I am happy that I could play a role in thanking them for all they have done for us. This ceremony was impactful because it allowed us to show our gratitude."
Madelyn Kemler, a peer minister at UC, felt personally connected to the service and to the veterans who were in attendance.
"Being able to participate in the Veterans Day Service was especially personal to me because I felt I was able to honor my late grandfather who served in the Navy during the Korean War," said Kemler. "As we honored the strength and courage of all veterans and those in attendance, I felt his spirit with me. I am extremely grateful I got to do my part to honor those who defend our liberty through prayer."
Hearts for Heroes is a student-led club established to focus on the service men and women who have devoted their lives to protecting our country and preserving our freedom. The goal is to maintain contact with the veterans of our community, especially those who have attended Union Catholic, so that these brave military members and their families know that their service to our country will never be forgotten.