The annual salute to veterans at All Saints School in Cresson is always a touching day for the school’s pastor. This year, it was especially poignant.
Besides being Pastor of the school and Saint Aloysius and Saint Francis Xavier Parishes in Cresson, Father Leo Arnone is also a reservist in the United States Navy. At the time of the annual Mass honoring local veterans in early November, Father Arnone was preparing for a more-than-one-year deployment in Africa.
The annual outreach to veterans, organized by All Saints teacher Robin Zavada, welcomes local veterans to the weekly school Mass, during which the students salute the veterans in song. A social follows the Liturgy.
As Father Arnone prepared for his upcoming deployment, he was especially moved by the students’ spirit of patriotism.
“I think the significance is really to help instill in the younger generation a love of country,” Father Arnone stated. “It’s built into our curriculum that we foster within them an awareness of military life as a reality within our country. We see it as a value and as a way of helping the individual to express that love and concern for God, neighbor, and country.”
Alayna Przybys, and eighth grade student at All Saints School, was a cantor during the Mass, and she joined the entire student body in patriotic music after Holy Communion.
“It’s important because they risked their lives to give us freedom and to serve our country,” she noted. “We are proud of them.”
The many veterans who attended were touched by the tribute.
“What I saw today was very humbling and very gratifying that kids can really learn to respect the military and what we’ve done for them and what all military personnel have done,” said Don Buck, a veteran of the United States Marines. “The kids have really opened my heart up to really good things today – patriotism, the flags, and just their overwhelming joy of doing it.”