Dressed in period military costume from the American Revolution, buglers blew their horns, drummers rat-a-tat-tatted their sticks off of their drums, and the whistle of fife was added as Fife players marched down the isle of the Brandywine Heights Middle School auditorium and up on stage.
Brandywine Heights High School Fife and Drum Corps opened the 16th Annual Veteran’s Day Program with Salute to the Colors. Tom Whalen, BHMS teacher and veteran, served as master of ceremonies.
During the assembly, Senator Judy Schwank presented the Brandywine Heights Middle School Patriot Award to Willard G. Dellicker.
“It’s so humbling to stand here in front of all the heroes that we have visiting today and the school honoring our veterans and may I accept this, please, on behalf of all the heroes that are sitting in our audience today, thank you,” said Dellicker. “Thank you for putting this together. The posters were awesome, the essays, and especially the music that we heard today and I was especially moved by the band playing the National Anthem the way it was intended to be heard in honor of all the people who gave us this country that we have and in honor of all those who had served and are currently serving to defend the freedoms that we have. Thank you so much for this honor. I am humbled and on behalf of all the principals, thank you for this day. ”
Schwank read to the audience Dellicker’s accomplishments. In an effort to avoid being drafted into the infantry, Dellicker enlisted as a naval aviator just after completing a two-year degree and landing a lucrative job. As a member of Attack Squadron 22, Dellicker often flew from carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin. He flew 172 combat missions and 29 tanker-support missions during the course of three Vietnam tours.
After his tours of duty, Dellicker returned to his wife and newborn baby and went back to college to complete a degree in engineering. He worked for companies such as GM and Air Products, but at the same time extended his military service for 30 more years. Dellicker joined the Pennsylvania International Guard and retired in 2000 with the rank of Brigadier General. Dellicker continued to serve in his community including, but not limited to, firefighters, Boy Scouts, youth sports programs, his church, Northwestern Lehigh School Board Member as well as serving as a member for Lehigh Carbon Community College Board of Trustees. Dellicker also belongs to the VFW and the Honorary First Defenders while conducting interviews for Charlie Dent with students seeking appointments to service academies. Dellicker serves as a mentor for young veterans returning to after deployment.
Schwank also noted how Dellicker, upon returning from Vietnam, felt the need to suppress his veteran status because of the public’s sentiment on the war. Schwank asked for everyone to give him a hometown heroes welcome as she presented his award.
The school’s Veteran’s Day Program is to honor our country, thank veterans for their service, and promote citizenship within the student body and faculty. Fourth and eighth-grade students participated in the American Legion Americanism Essay Contest as well as a school-wide poster contest using the same theme. Winners were recognized with a ribbon during the assembly. Winners of the essay contest won a monetary prize from the American Legion.
Earlier in the day, Veterans spoke to classes and helped in a question and answer session. In addition to readings, performances by the HS Fife and Drum Corps, and band and chorus, Veterans were treated to a luncheon afterwards.
In the hallways outside of the auditorium, Chris Hilbert, Army, 1987-1991, Brandon Hess, Navy, 1990-1994, Eric Yoder, Army, 1991-1996, reflected on posters hanging on the walls. These posters, drawn by the students, answered the questions, how can we take good care of our veterans and how do we keep Abraham Lincoln’s promise to our veterans and their families to take good care of them as a nation?
“History. We know a lot of these people,” said Hilbert. “We all graduated from Brandywine.”
“We went to school with their sons,” said Hess as he looked at posters with pictures. “This is a fantastic thing they are doing here today especially for the old veterans of WWII if there’s any of them remaining.”
“The connections you’ve made to our students and the opportunity with you are honoring men and women who have served, to share your stories, is what I treasure most about today,” said Andrew Potteiger, superintendent.
Robert Farina, middle and intermediate school principal, talked about the challenges facing veterans and how the students can continue to show their support, not just on Veteran’s Day, but everyday.
“Most importantly, help and defend those who need. That is the challenge that our veterans face before us and that is a challenge that we, the next generation, must answer,” said Farina. “Always honor and thank our veterans when you see them for all of their sacrifices for this nation and once again on behalf of myself, our school, and our school district, we thank you, all of our veterans, for your service to our nation.”
Farina announced that they will be continuing with their Veteran’s Day commemoration in the spring when eighth-grade members of student council travel to Washington, D.C., Arlington National Cemetery, where they will have the privilege to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
2015 Veterans Day Poster Contest Winners
Fourth GradeFirst place: Taylin Rodriguez
Second place: Vincent Baldassare
Third place: Olivia MoyerFifth Grade
First place: Allessandra Gallina
Second place: Ashley DeLongThird place: Brynn Bieber
Sixth GradeFirst place: Devin Simitz and Sara Moyer
Second place: Alex Lee and Caroline Fenstermacher
Third place: Nadia BodnariSeventh Grade
First place: Charli Rissmiller and Olivia Deysher
Second place: Sydney Derr and Brandi Carl
Third place: Caroline BurgerEighth Grade
First place: Riley Tavares and Olivia Weisner
Second place: Victoria Fenstermacher and Michael Sexton
Third place: Rachel SmithEssay Contest Winners
Fourth GradeFirst place: Abigail Do
Second place: Avery PotteigerThird place: Hannah Dougherty
Fifth GradeFirst place: Avery Fulmer
Second place: Joselin Rodriguez
Third place: Logan HaringSixth Grade
First place: Emersen ApgarSecond place: Lauren Conrad
Third place: Sarah DoughertySeventh Grade
First place: Lizabeth Baumgardner
Second place: Maxwell MacMillan
Third place: Emma ManwillerEighth Grade
First place: Rachel DoughertySecond place: Ava Leibold
Third place: Gabrielle Lampron