A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

5th graders at Kelly Elementary build traveling tribute to local Gold Star Veterans; will be seen around NKY

By Steve Oldfield
Children, Inc.

Students and teachers at Kelly Elementary in Burlington are creating a traveling tribute to Northern Kentucky’s Gold Star Veterans. They’re building a wall that honors 14 soldiers who were killed in the line of duty.

Aden, a 5th grader, wears a t-shirt printed for the tribute to gold star veterans, “Heroes don’t wear capes they wear dog tags.”

Fifth graders have spent months collecting photographs and interviewing family members of the veterans, some of whom died before the students were born. One of the honorees, Erlanger’s Ronnie Williams, was killed in Baghdad in 2005. His widow and a family friend visited the school and spoke to students.

“I would say it’s an honor, a blessing,” said Linda Williams, who shared stories about her late-husband. “I’m at a loss for words of how great they (the students) have done.”

The students have written biographies of Williams and the other soldiers that will be mounted on the traveling display. Students and teachers shed quite a few tears along the way.

The traveling memorial wall

“People were getting really, really emotional about it probably because it was just people who have passed away in the military,” said Aden, a fifth grader.

“They said, ‘Ms. Raney, I’m about to cry.’ And I said, ‘Well, I am too,’” said teacher Glenda Raney who is spearheading the project along with teacher Tammy Pidgeon.

“This is going to be a project that is certainly going to last the test of time,” said Pidgeon. “The students aren’t going to forget doing this for the families and the families aren’t going to forget our students reaching out and doing this for them.”

The tribute wall will be unveiled during a special ceremony planned for April 27th in the school’s gym, beginning at 1:30pm. It will then travel to libraries, stores and other venues around Northern Kentucky.

The project received support from the Ralph Fulton VFW Chapter, Children, Inc. and Frame King Moulding. The school also received an Innovation Grant from the Boone County Education Foundation.

Linda Williams, (right) the widow of Gold Star Veteran Ronnie Williams of Erlanger, speaks to students at Kelly Elementary, along with family friend, Andrea Barth.

Remembering . . .

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