By LENNY C. LEPOLA News Assistant Managing Editor
November 20, 2013
It’s been a long-standing tradition that Big Walnut Local School District schools recognize veteran’s service to our country on Veteran’s Day. District elementary buildings typically hold special ceremonies with members of one of Sunbury’s two service organization’s color guards in attendance – Benson W. Hough American Legion Post 457 or Sunbury Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8736.
Because of the logistics of opening the new Big Walnut Intermediate School on Baughman Street in Sunbury last year, the intermediate school staff was unable to organize a 2012 Veteran’s Day Ceremony. But they made up for it last Monday by holding a moving 2013 Big Walnut Intermediate School Veteran’s Day Ceremony in the school gymnasium.
Following a video relay of an outdoor flag raising by members of Boy Scouts of America Troop 701, Intermediate School principal Ryan McLane introduced keynote speaker Steve Mazzi.
In addition to being superintendent of the Big Walnut Local School District, Mazzi is a retired Ohio Air National Guard Chief Master Sergeant. Mazzi, who joined the Ohio Air National Guard in 1991, spent 16 years of his 20-year military career while serving in a variety of capacities for the Big Walnut school district.
In opening his remarks, Mazzi thanked members of Sunbury’s American Legion Post 457 and VFW Post 8736 for the major roles they play in the Big Walnut community, and especially for their support of local schools.
“It’s an honor for me to speak to you here today,” Mazzi said. “But we have to remember that there are those who paid the ultimate price who cannot be here. Few Americans notice that we are still a country at war. America’s war in Afghanistan is in its 13th year; and there are still men and women in uniform serving our nation to defend the freedoms that we enjoy.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to all who defend our way of life,” Mazzi continued. “Those serving in today’s military services do not serve for money; they serve to protect not only their own families, but all families.”
Mazzi said everyone should give thanks to honor veterans, those who are serving in the military services today, and those who have died in the service of their country.
“And when you recite the Pledge of Allegiance or stand for the National Anthem, remove your hat and place your right hand over your heart as a small favor to honor those who served,” Mazzi added.