Some soldiers who couldn’t be home with their families on Thanksgiving received letters from Forsyth County students.
About 10,000 letters were written by local students for soldiers all over the world as part of the Salute Program, a new program between Forsyth County Schools and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9143 to support soldiers and honor veterans.
“Looking at our community and seeing all of the military we have in our community and in the schools, the students that we have coming in and out of our schools every day that have parents in the military or loved ones in the military, as well as our staff members that have served … we wanted to be able to recognize and give back and honor all that they have done and all that they are currently doing,” said organizer Hannah Samples.
Samples said she sees the program as a chance for students to apply what they have learned both about writing and current affairs.
“It is a great opportunity for them to learn what we are, to learn about giving back and being thankful for the privileges and freedoms we have in America,” she said. “They’re able to really put a face with that. They’re able to really reach out and give back and give honor to those people
David Ubriaco, a veteran and math teacher at Lambert High School, said the campaign is particularly important for high schoolers.
“Once the kids are getting older, I think it gives them an awareness of what is going on in the ‘real world’ that they hear all about all throughout their high school career until we shove them out of here with a diploma.”
Ubriaco has now been on both sides of the campaign, after receiving letters and handing them out to soldiers under his command. He left the service in 2011 with the rank of Army Captain.
“The package came to me with the instructions of be sure that soldiers receive these on Thanksgiving morning as a show of appreciation from home, from the United States,” he said. “It was a morale booster.”
The school system was inspired to write the letters by a local radio station, which is hoping to have them compete next year with other schools.
“They already plan on having us back,” Ubriaco said. “They want to either do some type of radio interview or do some type of video for us as Forsyth County to throw down the gauntlet and challenge all the other metro Atlanta school systems to a little friendly competition of who can contribute the most.”
Ubriaco said school officials plan to use the Salute program to honor soldiers and veterans on a number of special days.
“We’re hoping for this to be a recurring program every year,” he said, “because with November being the month of the military family, April is the month of the military child and then May is National Military Appreciation Month, we’re hoping to make this a recurring theme.”