Published November 23, 2006
The students and faculty of Immaculate Heart of Mary School came together for the school’s fifth annual tribute to American veterans on Thursday, Nov. 9. Members of the Atlanta Veterans Affairs’ honor guard conducted the posting of the colors to begin the school-wide Mass. Father James Schillinger, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, was the main celebrant and homilist for the Mass.
At the conclusion of the liturgy, James M. Blaylock, a U.S. Marine Corps’ veteran and the recipient of three Purple Hearts, served as the guest speaker. Blaylock is an Albany native who earned his undergraduate degree in business from Albany State University and a master’s degree in business administration from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Currently employed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a prosthetic representative, Blaylock ensures the prosthetics program is meeting the needs of eligible veterans at the medical centers in the VA’s Southeast network. Blaylock has a prosthetic arm after losing his own right forearm during his tour of duty in Vietnam.
The honor guard retired the colors at the conclusion of the Mass, and a reception followed in the school cafeteria, where veteran guests and their families were treated to breakfast.
Greg Kaiser, principal of IHM School and a member of the U.S. Navy from 1987-95, welcomed all the participants. After a group sing-a-long of “God Bless America,” IHM second-graders entertained the audience with a repertoire of patriotic songs including “This Land is Your Land,” “America the Beautiful” and “Yankee Doodle.” The choir was directed by music teacher Amy LoCurto and accompanied on piano by parent volunteer Kathy Cahill.
The Veterans Day celebration committee included Cheryl Handy, chairperson, Yanire Neives, co-chairperson, Mary Pat Martin, faculty advisor, and home and school association members Theresa Driscoll-Miller and Liliam Fernandez-Bert.