Hamburg Area High School & the Military History Club hosted the 8th Annual Veterans Breakfast on Nov. 10.
“This is a nice time to unite the high school and the community and it’s been going on for eight years. It’s really good,” said Hamburg Area High School social studies department chair Clark Zimmerman Jr., who served in the Air Force.
One of the organizers of the Veterans Breakfast, Zimmerman said the breakfast was originally started eight years ago by Principal Chris Spohn, a retired Army Lt. Col.
“It’s a way of saying thank you to veterans, to the ones who served and their spouses,” said Zimmerman. “People who are in the military understand the sacrifice that is undertaken. This is just a small way of saying thank you for serving. We appreciate everything that you did.”
Spohn said to veterans, “It’s always an honor for our students and our staff to put this on. I am a veteran so I know how good it feels when someone says thank you and we recognize you.”
The program included the breakfast and Hamburg’s Aerial Boundaries Select Choir performed patriotic songs, including “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” which is a love song made popular during WWII, “Salute to the Armed Forces,” and “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music.” Hamburg Area School District Superintendent Dr. Richard Mextorf joined Aerial Boundaries for the performance of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Every year Hamburg High School welcomes a veteran to speak.
“It’s a veteran who wants to tell their story and we provide them a platform to tell their story. Every year it’s somebody different,” said Zimmerman. “Every veteran, they understand what they’re talking about so it’s really just a camaraderie type of moment.”
This year’s speaker was Major Retired Jeff Starr, who was a member of the United States Army, Second Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry, of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
“Major Starr gave a presentation on his experiences in Ramadi, the capitol of al Anbar Province. His group received credit for aiding in the organization and training of Iraqi Security Forces, capturing terrorists, destroying insurgent groups, and destroying or disarming more than 1,100 improvised explosive devices in the fight against terrorism,” according to the program.
What Spohn likes the most is that the veterans breakfast “brings a lot of people together to really show appreciation not only to veterans but veterans in our community. Our students get a chance to meet and talk to people in their community, people that maybe are neighbors they didn’t even know are veterans. They get to hear their stories. Veterans get a chance to see that we have really good students here… and they get a chance to interact.”
Hamburg junior Jake Ruppert was among the students who greeted veterans as they arrived and served dessert, “Bring everyone together so they can see other veterans and also (show) respect to veterans.”
Veteran Gordon Pultz, Hamburg, who served in the Marine Corp., liked “seeing all of the other veterans and seeing the young people who served us. The students are very attentive and very courteous.”
Veteran Ervin Stinly Jr. of Shartlesville, who served 39 years in the National Guard of which 20 was active duty, hopes students “learn to respect the country and the people who defend the country and the rights to be free and do what they can do today.”
He wishes more young people would consider serving in the military.
“Getting into the military will sometimes help them decide on what they want to do and the military will help pay for a lot of that. You get to learn and respect your country and fellow citizens more.”
Stinly said the Hamburg Veterans Breakfast is great.
“I’m glad they do this every year and it’s nice that they invite us veterans up. It’s just a time to get together with other fellow veterans and reminisce.”