By JESSICA ABLE
Record Staff Writer
A journey of service to members of the military that began at St. Edward School nearly a decade ago has come full circle.
Command Sergeant Major Ronnie Curry, brother-in-law to Joyce Curry, an administrative assistant at St. Edward, visited the school May 17 to return an important memento — a special teddy bear — that he has taken with him on his multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Curry attended an assembly in his honor May 17 at the school’s gymnasium to return the bear — affectionately named the Peace Buddy Bear — and to thank the St. Edward community for their ongoing support of the military.
At the assembly in the school’s gym, principal Susan Jones presented Curry, who returned from his last tour in Afghanistan just days before, with a plaque for his “service to St. Edward School by word and deed. Your presence has enriched the lives of our students and served as an example for all,” she said.
In 2003 Curry was about to embark on a tour of Iraq and was worried that some of the men and women in his command would be homesick. So he asked Joyce Curry, then a kindergarten teaching assistant, if some of the students could make cards and draw pictures, Jones said, to be sent to the soldiers.
That was the first project St. Edward completed to support the military.
What started out as a conversation between Curry and his sister-in-law nearly 10 years ago transformed into Operation Support Peace — the school’s stewardship program that aims to address the needs of the military and their families.
During the past nine years, the students, faculty and staff at St. Edward School have completed more than 115 projects in support of the troops, including care packages, toy drives and Christmas cards.
Jones acknowledged that the school is still participating in Operation Support Peace “because we still have soldiers that are in other places making sure that we can still be free.”
Curry, who will soon retire from the military, said an emotional thank you to the St. Edward community.
“I just want to say on behalf of all the service men and women and our great civilians that serve this nation so admirably, that I accept these gifts on their behalf and not on mine because it’s truly to their honor and their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families that I continue to serve at least for another year or so,” he said.
Also on hand for the ceremony was Andy Vogt, who graduated from St. Edward School only the night before. Vogt has a special bond with Curry dating back to 2003 when he was just a kindergartner at the school. That year Vogt was shown in a photograph (that appeared in The Record) shaking Curry’s hand. Vogt keeps a framed copy of the photo in his room to “remind me of him and to let him know that I’m always thinking about him and where he is.”
At the May 17 assembly, Vogt presented Curry with a special keepsake box featuring the 2003 photograph on top.
Vogt said that his experience with Operation Support Peace has taught him that his school has done a lot to help other people, especially soldiers.
“It’s exciting to know that I was a part of helping people, that I was part of changing people’s lives. I learned that by only devoting time, you can make others happy, that you can make a difference in the lives of soldiers,” he said.