Guy Neel is a retired Marine. His daughter attends HPPM.

Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet students celebrated Veterans Day in a big way Thursday. They hosted a parade with drum line and color guard, and they invited veterans and first responders to be their honored guests.

“We are in awe of your courageous acts, yet you say you’re not heroes, you’re just people,” said RISD Trustee Kim Caston. “You are heroes – you’re ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.”

Caston introduced Francisco Carrero, grand marshal of the parade and 6 year veteran of the Irving Fire Department. He’s also husband of Ashley Carrero, HPPM second grade teacher.

You can see my photos here on Flickr.

“I’m proud to be here,” said Marine Corps veteran Guy Neel, whose daughter attends HPPM as a Kindergarten student. “I’m proud to serve my neighborhood and this school.”

Larry Milligan, also a veteran of the Marine Corps, served in Vietnam from 1967-71. He attended in support of his granddaughter, a HPPM first grader. Veteran Raymond Manning and others were also on hand.

Caston encouraged students – and parents – to take the lessons of Veteran’s Day to heart.

“Go back to class and be kind to your classmates,” said Caston. “I want you to thank a teacher or nurse or custodian or someone who works in the cafeteria. Thank them for making this the best place to come and learn. Then I have a message for the adults who walked the halls of our elementary schools many years ago. My charge to you is this: with every interaction you have with people today, meet them with grace and mercy, whether they have earned it or not. It is time for us to model that for our children.”

Veterans Day is Nov. 11, but will be celebrated Monday, Nov. 12 this year.

Veteran Raymond Manning with HPPM students

Larry Milligan is a Vietnam veteran. His granddaughter attends HPPM.