Champion pays tribute to veterans

A moment of silence was observed during the ninth annual Veterans Day Community Tribute Friday at Champion Central Elementary School. Several hundred people joined students and staff from Champion schools for the event. Richard Orr of Champion, a U.S. Army veteran, was the honored guest. Tribune Chronicle / Emily Earnhart

CHAMPION — Several hundred local residents joined Champion Central Elementary School students and the Champion Schools’ Senior Citizens Advisory Council in honoring local veterans Friday at the elementary school.

The ninth annual Veterans Day Community Tribute was kicked off by a procession of veterans and military personnel led by honored veteran Richard Orr of Champion, who served in the U.S. Army. That was followed by a patriotic song performed by the Champion High School symphonic band and the presentation of colors by the Trumbull Career and Technical Center Color Guard.

Guest speaker Jennifer McClellan, a Champion resident and veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves who served in Operation Desert Shield in the Middle East, reminded audience members of the significance of the holiday.

“The gathering of people on Veterans Day is to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice,” McClellan said.

McClellan thanked the military for her education and recited a piece of anonymous poetry that honored those who did not return from battle.

She said she was there to honor her grandfather, uncle, nephew and son with the words, “All gave some; some gave all.”

The words were followed by music from the elementary students, retrieval of the colors and the playing of taps by the high school symphonic band. A recession of the veterans and community followed as the band played “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Attendees gathered outside the gymnasium were pleased with the day’s events.

Ken Shafer, U.S. Army, said the event was filled with people he did not know but it was so “rewarding to be honored.”

“It was a very nice event,” said Ray Campana of Cortland, who was standing next to Shafer as the crowd filed through the building.

Students had nothing but pride as they walked out of the gymnasium.

Gracie Knoske, 9, said it was fun to sing “Thank you Soldiers.” Accompanied by Tyler LeMon, her fourth- grade teacher, Knoske was still talking about being chosen to help present Orr with a declaration.

LeMon said the students had practiced the music program all week and gave credit to the elementary music teacher and the high school band instructor for their hard work.

“They put a lot of work into it,” LeMon said, commenting on the day’s performance. “She (Knoske) didn’t even know she would be picked.”