Giving the Ultimate Gift
Each year, Milton Hershey School pays tribute to those alumni who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Beginning in 1954, the school’s Memorial Service honored those who gave their lives in service during times of war or conflict. The first program, sponsored by the Student Senior Senate, honored the memory of Milton and Catherine Hershey, school staff, and the Gold Star Alumni.
During the ceremony, the roll call of the Gold Star Boys was read followed by 30 seconds of silence. After the roll call, the service ended with the haunting sound of the trumpet taps. Representatives from each Junior and Senior Division student home brought wreaths from the Junior–Senior High School auditorium, where the assembly was held, to the Hershey Cemetery.
In the years since this first Memorial Day Service, annual assemblies have been held to pay tribute to those who serve our country. In a message given by Junior-Senior High School Principal Hammond in 1957, Memorial Day was called, “a day of heroes, a day to remember their sacrifices and their deeds; a day of memories of loved ones and friends; a day when all are united in a common purpose to honor and to remember others – and what they did to preserve our country and freedom.”
Memorial Day Assembly Tradition
The school’s Memorial Day Assembly continues to be a time of reverence and respect. The story of one of the Gold Star alumni is shared, and the roll call is read with photos of the Gold Star alumni. After the playing of taps, our students leave in silence and the seniors then travel to the Hershey Cemetery for a graveside service. For the past eight years, students have volunteered to honor the school’s Gold Star Alumni by marching in the Hershey Memorial Day Parade.
In 2006, Angela Talavera-Soto ’00 spoke at the assembly and focused on honor and duty. Angela stated that she was a, “testament of failure gone right,” because one person truly had enough faith in her so she eventually believed in herself. This also is a testament to Milton Hershey, his perseverance, and the power of a caring community to transform the lives of thousands of children. Milton Hershey valued the contributions of his former students during World War II and suggested the Gold Star Alumni be remembered with the Gold Star Poster.
Today, Milton Hershey School’s Graduate Programs for Success Division (GPS) provides individualized support to students who are interested in entering the military, workforce, or higher education.