2007-03-16 / Community

Scholars'Academy Celebrates Freedom Day

By Jessica Schwartz Scholars' Academy Student

From left: Vice Principal Willis Perry, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, American Legion members Dennis McEnerny, Mike Honan, James Hurley, Vincent Calimano, Post Commander Jack Leff, Tom Winberry and Scholars' Academy Principal Brian O'Connell. The American Legion provided an informative 30-minute video on the importance and history of the American Flag. From left: Vice Principal Willis Perry, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, American Legion members Dennis McEnerny, Mike Honan, James Hurley, Vincent Calimano, Post Commander Jack Leff, Tom Winberry and Scholars' Academy Principal Brian O'Connell. The American Legion provided an informative 30-minute video on the importance and history of the American Flag. "Freedom comes at a cost." "I would do it all over, just to save people's lives from all the pain and suffering that others have caused." There he was, a hero, Detective Steven McDonald, speaking to and inspiring over 450 Region Five Scholars' Academy students. He was one of the special guests at our school's Freedom Day celebration on February 1, 2007.

The first "Freedom Day Assembly" was organized to help adults and students alike truly understand the meaning of the American Flag. In attendance were Principal Brian O'Connell; Assistant Principal Willis Perry; Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer; the staff of the Scholars' Academy; students; and members of the American Legion, O'Connell Post #272 Post Commander Jack Leff, and members Mike Honan, Dennis McEnerney, Vincent Calimano, Tom Winberry and James Hurley.

The group with Detective Steven McDonald. The group with Detective Steven McDonald. Detective McDonald's insightful, motivational and humbling words shared his perspective of his fate with an armed 13-year-old criminal twenty one summers ago, and demonstrated his inner beauty and strength to all in attendance. His story of service and honor moved the audience to further appreciate the men and women of our armed services and uniformed services who willingly put themselves at risk to protect us and insulate our collective interests in the further pursuit and maintenance of freedom.

Detective McDonald, Assemblywoman Pheffer, and the American Legion members all testified in deed, presence, and word that to serve the greater good of preserving freedom for the American people is a privilege. One of the most moving and profound messages of the assembly about freedom, however, was one of the power of love and forgiveness. "Love is an awesome power," Detective McDonald said. "It saved my life. If I held in all of the anger that I had from that young man, I wouldn't have survived. But, to live in all love and forgiveness, is the only way to survive the hardships in life. It freed me to go on living."

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