Honoring Them: Harmony schools host Veteran’s Day drive-thru parade

With red and blue balloons, patriotic music and handmade signs that said, “Thank you for your service,” Harmony Science Academy hosted a Veteran’s Day drive-through parade at 1 p.m. Wednesday where students waved and clapped as veterans drove by in their cars.

The same event took place at the other campuses earlier in the day and veterans who attended were recognized with a certificate, a gift bag and refreshments as they posed for photos from inside the vehicles.

“We decided to host this special event on both campuses. We actually do host this event every year on campus with an in-school parade, unfortunately, due to the current circumstances, due to the pandemic, we still felt it was important to recognize and honor them for their service to our nation,” Georgette Betancourt-Medellin, public relations coordinator, said.

“So, we decided to put this little drive-through parade to continue to honor their service and to also make sure that our scholars are able to recognize the importance of what veterans go through, their sacrifices for our nation. We are trying to instill in them our current, past and future military personnel for all they do for our freedom.”

Joel Alaffa, campus principal, said the event is part of their regular tradition but due to COVID-19 they had to modify the event to make it safer. But still it is something very important that has to be celebrated. He added the most important part of the event is to teach the students the importance of supporting veterans.

“It was a little bit faster than normal. We are used to sitting down with the veterans and talking to them for at least an hour or two, giving them more a catering type of service, but unfortunately we had to do a quick run,” he said.”

The biggest thing is to really showcase them, an opportunity to allow the veterans to come out and be seen in public for students, who are still growing and learning and they are still being exposed to different things and these are one of the things that we want to be able to let them know, that we have people here locally around us that are still supporting us to this day.”

Alaffa recognized with a special plaque veteran Julio Sanchez, who is with the Brownsville Police Department. Sanchez posed for photos with the principal as he received the recognition.

“Today, along with all our veterans, we would like to present to him a thank you for their kind service to our nation and to our city. As a token of appreciation we would like to recognize and thank you with a plaque to honor you, we appreciate everything you have done for us here in the City of Brownsville,” Alaffa said.

William Rodenbaugh, with Disabled American Veterans, said it feels good to be recognized during the special day. Rodenbaugh was driving a white pickup truck where he paraded along with two other veterans.

“It feels good because people are trying to honor us. It’s sad the way they have to do it but somebody has to do it and if we don’t get out here and let them know that we care about everybody,” he said.

Jesse Garcia, commander from the chapter, echoed the sentiment and said he feels thankful to be part of this event and also thanked those who are supporting veterans in any way they can.

“One of the things that we are talking about here, is that by them having this with a few of us coming out, it is still good that we keep the Veteran’s Day tradition alive,” he said.

“All the local restaurants, the local eateries, there are a few of them doing something and we appreciate it.”