The students at Willowville Elementary School in Union Township paused to honor fallen soldier Matt Maupin with an afternoon assembly April 9.
Surrounded by the school’s staff, who were wearing red, white, and blue T-shirts with Maupin commemorative stickers, the elementary students at Willowville were only one of the many student bodies in the West Clermont School District who honored Maupin on April 9, the day that Union Township native Matt Maupin was captured in Iraq in 2004.
The Clermont County Board of Commissioners proclaimed April 9 as Matt Maupin Day in the county after Maupin’s remains were found nearly four years after his capture and subsequent classification as being the only U.S. soldier captured/missing in action in Iraq.
“We had the assembly for many reasons,” said Willowville Elementary principal Laura Nazzarine. “Many of our Willowville teachers taught Matt; he was a part of our Willowville family for six years.”
"I think that it is our responsibility as educators to support our troops and our families," the principal said. "We want our students to know that their freedom is not free, and that people like Matt sacrifice their lives so that they can go to school every day, play soccer, live in a nice home, and vote for our leaders."
The 523 Willowville students, who were very well behaved during the honor assembly, listened intently to prayers, were enraptured by comments from Willowville teacher Pam Branham and Principal Nazzarine, and were moved to emotional heights as the school's elementary choir beautifully sang "Everyday Hero" in honor of Matt's ultimate sacrifice.
Many of the children have parents fighting in conflicts all around the world, Nazzarine said, and the school (and the whole West Clermont family) want them to know that there is overwhelming support for them and the dangerous jobs that their parents are engaged in.
"I hope the children realize that there are heroes like Matt Maupin that live right here in our community," Nazzarine said. "Willowville is a very patriotic community that honors our soldiers. I am very lucky to have inherited their traditions and serve as their principal."