'We have heroes in our lives and community': Washington school recognizes veterans, students

First-grader Ty Uppinghouse places his hand on his chest for the national anthem with colors presented by the American Legion Post 37 Friday at Washington School in Quincy. The Veterans Day celebration featured a visit from Quincy Public Schools Superintendent Roy Webb, a retired brigadier general in the Army National Guard. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 10, 2017 9:40 pm Updated: Nov. 10, 2017 10:45 pm

QUINCY -- Back in January when Kyran Brown came to Washington School, fellow kindergartner Nehemiah Palmer didn't hesitate to offer his friendship.

"He was a new kid," Nehemiah, now a first-grader said.

Nehemiah wanted Kyran to feel comfortable at his school -- and other students followed Nehemiah's lead.

Still fast friends, the boys live their mission every day of being leaders at school and at home -- and on Friday, a day to honor veterans as superheroes, the first-graders also got some recognition.

"Children typically think of heroes as being in the comics or movies. We want our students to know that we have heroes in our lives and community who are not fictional characters," Principal Sara Cramer said.

Superintendent Roy Webb presented the boys with Blue Devil coins designed to recognize loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage -- the same qualities that guided the retired brigadier general in his career with the Army National Guard.

"It isn't too often that we see such young children in Quincy Public Schools being recognized for the qualities that many adults struggle to demonstrate," Cramer said. "You two are like superheroes here at Washington School."

Washington students applauded their classmates, but they saved their biggest ovation for five veterans from American Legion Post 37 -- Roger Schwengel, Justin Paul Altgilbers, Jesus Delgado, Dale Hill and Les Lair -- who presented the colors at the school's morning meeting.

"The greatest thing about the military is when you take advantage of every educational opportunity," said Hill, who served in the Navy.

Delgado told students that his service in the Marines took him around the world more than once and to 23 different countries.

"Thank you for being here. We appreciate what you do for us, recognizing us in the parade. It's heartwarming," he said.

Washington students, including Kyran and Nehemiah, marched with Webb in Saturday's Veterans Parade. Despite Kyran's physical challenges, "he persevered. He didn't stop. He wanted to do the job he signed up to do," Cramer said. "Like all of us, Kyran faces challenges in his life. Unlike some, he overcomes them with grace and dignity and won't let challenges get in his way."

That same philosophy motivated many veterans.

"When I get to wear this uniform, I am extremely proud, not because of my medals or things I've done, but I get to be associated with men and women like these gentlemen," Webb said. "They left their homes, left their families and traveled halfway across the world. They did it for you, for your freedom."

Sherrell Kerr, Kyran's mother, said it was touching to see the boys recognized and knows the honor will inspire them to keep doing what they already do.

"I'm thankful that they noticed what kind of kid he is," Nehemiah's mom Jennifer Neiswender-Palmer said. "He's like that at home, too. He's all heart. He puts everyone else first."