No family for Army veteran’s funeral, so local students pay tribute

Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade at Ascension School in Kettering on Wednesday honored a veteran who had no surviving family to attend his funeral.

A veterans group organized the funeral for 78-year-old U.S. Army veteran Larry Tracy, a service that featured all of the pomp and circumstance deserved by someone who served his country with honor, according to Susan Digiorgio, the principal at Ascension.

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Digiorgio said the kids at Ascension helped make it a memorable service.

“Larry Tracy was having his funeral Mass here at Ascension Church, I heard from our parish staff member, Cathy Magness,” Digiorgio said. “She shared with me he had no immediate family, was elderly and was a veteran who served in the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and National Guard. It was likely going to be a quiet funeral with some of his veteran comrades attending.”

She said that it just seemed right to try to do something special for Tracy.

“For me, I felt in my heart we really needed to do something as a school community. As Catholics our faith teaches us to help “bury the dead” and as Americans we are called to honor those who have served our country,” she said. “Here was a chance to weave the two together. I couldn’t let this opportunity to honor Mr. Tracy pass us by.”

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Some of the junior high students volunteered to participate in the Mass, and Routsong Funeral home offered flags for the students to use.

“Our junior high students formed a processional line on either side of the parking lot area the hearse and mourners would pass through. The students and teachers held the American flag high or placed their hands on their hearts out of respect for the veterans,” Digiorgio said. “It was truly moving.”

Digiorgio said it created a touching scene, as students mixed with the veterans, showed pride in their country and honored Tracy.

“I am so proud of our junior high students who showed their respect for a man they never knew and carried out their faith quietly,” the principal said.

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