Renewed sense of patriotism spurs assembly

November 09, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — In what appears to be a new tradition at Bill E. Young Jr. Middle School, students and staff gathered Thursday on the Calipatria High School football field for a Veterans Day assembly.

A renewed sense of patriotism, one legacy of Sept. 11, spurred the both celebratory and reverent event.

Interspersed between patriotic songs performed by the school band or sung by students were short speeches about Veterans Day and the importance of U.S. military members.

Lloyd Allen, Imperial Irrigation District director, a Korean War veteran and Calipatria resident, briefly spoke to students about his experience in the military and the importance of Veterans Day.

"We're here today because of all the freedoms we have," Allen said.

They are freedoms given to us by people in the past, he added.

"And we cherish these freedoms," he said.

Sixth-grader Robert Lopez Jr., 11, read an essay he wrote about an important veteran in his life: his father.


A veteran of the Gulf War, Robert Lopez didn't meet his namesake until four months after Robert Jr.'s birth because of his service in the war.

"Dad made a commitment to come home to his family and he did," Robert Jr. read.

His father's involvement freeing Kuwait from Iraq and determination to return home make Robert Jr. proud.

"This is why I look up to him as my role model," Robert Jr. said.

Lopez and Allen were two of about 10 veterans the school honored with Bill E. Young Jr. awards at the ceremony. Similar awards were presented to veterans last year.

"We're all extremely proud and honored to have you serve our country and be here today," said Principal Joe Derma.

Lopez described the event, the award and his son's essay as "very touching."

"It was a surprise," Lopez said, explaining that he was just invited to come but had no idea he'd be presented with an award from his son.

"I call him my war baby," Lopez said.

While serving in the Persian Gulf, Lopez received word of his son's birth by mail.

"That's what kept me going," he said.

>>Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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