As a tradition for many years, Western Wayne administration, faculty, staff, and students joined together on Wednesday, November 13, to celebrate veterans in the community with a special in-school event that featured music from the high school band and chorus, wise words from a veteran guest speaker, and this year the event had the added component of a special presentation of the meaning of the 13 folds in the American flag.
Many local veterans attended the presentation at Western Wayne. Some of which had special connections to Western Wayne students. Marty Reingold, Vietnam veteran, attended with his wife Marsha to spend the day honoring veterans with their grandson sophomore Matt Reingold.
Marsha explained that they have taken part in the Veterans Day assembly at Western Wayne for the past four years.
“Matt is very proud of his papa,” Marsha explained. “We are so happy to be here with our grandson. It is very rewarding to see the school do things for our service men and to witness the camaraderie.”
Matt agreed with his grandmother.
“The best part about today is being able to honor the veterans,” Matt explained. “Especially my grandfather.”
Another veteran that felt proud to be at the event with his grandchildren was Roger O’Brien, a United States Navy veteran. O’Brien explained that it was his first time at the Veterans Day event at Western Wayne. However, he had heard about it from his granddaughter Rebeccah King, who is a senior this year, and performed with the chorus and band at the event.
O’Brien also had a number of other grandchildren at the event who have attended Western Wayne. His grandchildren Johnathan Robbins, 7th grade, and Summer Schaal, granddaughter, were with O’Brien before the presentation to welcome him to the school.
“I am a very proud grandfather,” O’Brien said. “I promised them I would come.”
O’Brien traveled to Western Wayne from New Jersey for the event, and he was happy to discuss his time in the service with his grandchildren.
“I practically traveled around the world as a gunner on a cargo ship,” O’Brien explained. “I was in Russia twice. I was shipped to the West Coast and was headed to Okinawa, Japan, but they surrendered before we got there. We saw plenty.”
O’Brien discussed how he received many honors for his military service.
“I have a number of medals and ribbons for my time in the service which I have shown to my grandchildren,” O’Brien explained.
Reingold, O’Brien, and many other veterans processed into the auditorium to begin the event.
Highlights of the event include some beautifully performed patriotic pieces by the Western Wayne High School chorus and band. The veterans also were treated to a breakfast and lunch prepared by students in Mrs. Stephanie Zoppi’s culinary classes. In addition, during the assembly, a group of local veterans demonstrated and explained the meaning of the 13 folds in an American Flag when it is presented to a loved one at a military funeral service.
The symbolism of each of the folds was explained in a very moving presentation. They represent a variety of meaningful parts of military service, faith in God, and faith in America. For example, the second fold signifies a belief in eternal life; the seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces; and the final fold, when the stars are uppermost, is a tribute to our national motto, “In God We Trust.”
As a closing to the assembly, the students, veterans, and faculty in attendance heard from guest speaker Officer Robert Robbins. Officer Robbins served in the United States Army in the 101st Airborne Division as a Light Wheel Vehicle Mechanic at Fort Campbell Kentucky for two years. He earned the Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and the Air Assault Badge.
Upon the conclusion of his active service, Officer Robbins joined the Pennsylvania National Guard and served in Alpha Co, 1st Battalion of the 109th Infantry Regiment. In this unit, he served as a Squad Leader, Vehicle Commander, was promoted to Sergeant and was awarded the General S. J. Stewart Medal for service and NCO Academy Graduate Ribbon.
In 1991, Officer Robbins joined the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and served with the Security Police Flight at Willow Grove Naval Air Station. He was responsible for base security, Flight Operations Security, and the protection of aircraft and missile weapons sites. He earned the Rank of Staff Sergeant.
He then attended the Security Police Academy at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in which he earned the title of Honor Graduate and was awarded the Pennsylvania Commendation Medal. Officer Robbins received an Honorable Discharge from all three branches he served in.
Officer Robbins is a retired Pennsylvania State Trooper, who served for 23 years and spent his entire career in the Patrol Unit. He was promoted to Corporal in 1999 and was responsible for nearly every facet of daily operations in a State Police Troop. He was stationed all over the State from Bucks County to Wayne County.
Today, Officer Robbins serves as a School Resource Officer here at the Western Wayne School District and has diligently done so since 2013. Robbins is beloved by Western Wayne students and faculty alike. He has a very meaningful presence throughout the school keeping it safe and helping to guide students.
Robbins also has the honor of being the newest voice of the Western Wayne Wildcats at their football and basketball games where he has taken over as announcer after the passing of Western Wayne’s beloved veteran teacher Mr. Jim Rebar.
As Robbins talked to the students, he discussed his upbringing in Honesdale where he was one of seven children in what he described as an average family. Robbins went on to marry his high school sweetheart and have three children. He then explained his journey through the military. Next, Robbins told the students what the military had done for him and how it shaped him as a person.
“I discovered that there were things I never thought I could be capable of doing from my time in the military,” Robbins explained. “For example, I conquered my fear of heights. I had to jump out of helicopters in my time in the service. My time in the military really shaped my life.”
Robbins quoted “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and discussed how he feels it is very meaningful to him as a veteran. He then told the students how important it is for them to be thankful for veterans and, if possible, for them to try to do service for the community to give back.
“We should live a life that we have earned from what was sacrificed for us,” he said. “It important for us to say thank you to veterans and to provide service to the community if we can.”
His closing words were very meaningful and memorable.
“God bless you,” he told all in attendance. “God bless America.”