25 May Veterans Memorial Elementary Honors their Namesake
Veterans saluted and placed their hands on their hearts as children earnestly gave a pre-Memorial Day performance in honor of those who gave their lives in service to our country.
Filling diagonal rows of forest green student-sized chairs, families and veterans listened Thursday morning to a few speeches and traditional songs, starting with the national anthem and ending with a student playing taps on her trumpet.
Since its opening in 2007, Veterans Memorial Elementary School in North Naples has lived up to its name by raising awareness and money for those who have served.
Principal Dana Franklin-Riashi said the event inspires the leaders of tomorrow by honoring the leaders of our country today.
“These are the true-life heroes,” Franklin-Riashi said.
This year, students contributed their spare change to Coins for Courage and raised $900 — and teachers and school staff donated an additional $500.
The Patriots for Freedom Foundation Inc., which has been assisting the school with its Memorial Day event almost since it began, was able to help the school round up the total from $1,400 to $2,000.
Wounded Warriors of Collier County, founded by Dale Mullin, was also there to support local veterans. This year’s donations almost doubled last year’s, he said.
“What we do is create a public awareness of our veterans, No. 1,” Mullin said. “No. 2 is we raise money for veterans and their families.”
The money raised goes to help veterans in need with a variety of problems. Mullin mentioned “the invisible wounds of war” — mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
“Twenty veterans a day are committing suicide,” he said. “The VA (Veterans Affairs Department) cannot meet all of their needs. The community has to step in.”