The coronavirus didn’t stop Pennsbury High School from celebrating graduating seniors who are joining the military.

At an outdoor ceremony last month at the Falls Township high school, 16 of the more than 750 graduates were recognized for their intent to serve America in the armed forces.

The following graduates have joined the military:

  • Jordon D. Emmett – U.S. Marine Corps
  • Colin Michael Farence – U.S. Army National Guard
  • Cory Lucas Giller – U.S. Army
  • Jessica M. James – U.S. Army National Guard
  • Kamya J. Jefferson – U.S. Army Reserve
  • Nicholas D. Kelleher – U.S. Marine Corps
  • Austin Lee Menendez – U.S. Army
  • Colin William Miller – U.S. Marine Corps
  • Liam R. Paupst – U.S. Army
  • Samuel J. Ruta – U.S. Military Academy at West Point
  • Mason Michael Tyler Ryan – U.S. Army
  • David J. Seibert, Jr. – U.S. Marine Corps
  • Catherine Joanna Mei Smith – U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs
  • Lucas John Smith – U.S. Navy
  • Joseph Theodore Struk – U.S. Navy
  • Luke E. Tiroly – U.S. Navy

“We’re in the midst of heroes today. I am so proud of each and every one of you,” Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick told the group at the socially-distant ceremony.

The congressman retold the tale of the 1851 painting of Gen. George Washington crossing the Delaware River in 1776 and the German artist who created the iconic image. He said the painting was created to show off the ideals of America.

“We love you for loving your country more than yourself,” Fitzpatrick said to the incoming military members.

“Joining the military has always been a noble calling. Typically it involves high levels of sacrifice by the individuals and their families,” said Air Force Maj. James G. MacEachern Jr., who runs the Pennsbury Air Force JROTC program, adding that military service can take members around the globe.

VFW Post 6393 member Thomas Hauserman, a Navy veteran and former regional VFM commander, spoke and said the armed forces were about honor and an added benefit was the camaraderie that follows.

“That bond, or sense of trust, will not only extend to the people that you will be serving with today, but you will understand what it means to be a veteran and be able to connect with veterans that served our nation in past years,” he said.

Talking to the enlisted young people, Hauserman told his story of joining the Navy in 1965 and serving until 1969. He explained that his time in the military made a positive impact on his life.

“I welcome you to the United States military community. Thank you for your service,” he said.

“School closure might have stripped you of the ability to celebrate your last year here at Pennsbury High School with some of your friends, but it didn’t strip you of your character. With your commitment to joining our nation’s military, you are already heroes in our eyes. Yet how far you’ve come isn’t close to how far you can go. While you’ll always be heroes to us, you can be national heroes,” Pennsbury Superintendent Dr. William Gretzula said.

Gretzula called out the students by name and pointed to what they can accomplish.

School Board President T.R. Kannan said the young peoples’ decision to join the military has made them leaders.

The school board president pointed to the wide variety of services the military performs outside of warfare, including dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wish you all the best in your promising futures,” he said.

Pennsbury High School student Gracie Maccarella performed the “National Anthem” to start the ceremony.