When 78-year-old Army veteran Larry Tracy passed away, he left behind no family to cover the costs of his funeral. But a small service just didn’t seem right to the kids at Ascension School in Kettering, Ohio.
Tracy was “elderly and was a veteran who served in the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and National Guard,” said Susan Digiorgio, principal at Ascension. “It was likely going to be a quiet funeral with some of his veteran comrades attending.”
The sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students arranged for something much more fitting of his service.
“For me, I felt in my heart we really needed to do something as a school community. As Catholics our faith teaches us to help ‘bury the dead’ and as Americans we are called to honor those who have served our country,” she said. “Here was a chance to weave the two together. I couldn’t let this opportunity to honor Mr. Tracy pass us by.”
With a local veterans group that initially helped arrange the funeral, a group of junior high students volunteers to help with the Mass, while Routsong Funeral home lent some U.S. flags to the ceremony, Dayton Daily News reports.
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“Our junior high students formed a processional line on either side of the parking lot area the hearse and mourners would pass through. The students and teachers held the American flag high or placed their hands on their hearts out of respect for the veterans,” Digiorgio said. “It was truly moving.”
Tracy would have been proud to see the moving ceremony that honored his life and service.
“I am so proud of our junior high students who showed their respect for a man they never knew and carried out their faith quietly,” Digiorgio said.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.