MHS Traditions: Commemorating Gold Star Alumni at Memorial Day Assembly
Milton Hershey School has a long tradition of honoring our Gold Star alumni in an annual school-wide Memorial Day Assembly. Who are the Gold Star alumni? These 55 individuals paid the ultimate sacrifice-they gave their lives while serving our country in time of war or conflict.
To honor them, the first Memorial Day assembly in 1954 featured the roll call of the Gold Star alumni and “Taps,” the haunting military trumpet tune. This tradition continues today, and each year after the assembly concludes, the senior class travels to the Hershey Cemetery to reflect on the memory of Milton and Catherine Hershey.
Honoring Military Sacrifice Every Day
In 2010, MHS partnered with the Milton Hershey School Alumni Association to not only honor Gold Star alumni once a year but daily.
Through the partnership, the Gold Star exhibit was born. Located in the Heritage Room of Founders Hall, it pays tribute to alumni military members and their families. The Gold Star exhibit wall features two posters – a current print with the 55 Gold Star alumni and the original 1945 version.
Milton Hershey had the original inspiration for the poster. In 1944, school principal W. Allen Hammond wrote a letter to the brother of Gold Star alum Harry Forry ’38 and said:
“At the suggestion of Mr. M. S. Hershey, founder of our school, we shall print a Gold Star card of those boys from our school who have thus far given their lives in defense of our country… Mr. Hershey and the school are very proud of the record which some eight hundred [alumni] are making in this war and our hearts go out in loving sympathy to those thirteen of you who have laid such a precious sacrifice on the altar of freedom.”
Second Lieutenant Harry Forry served in the U.S. Army Air Corps stationed in the Pacific Southwest Theater of Operations. His plane was last seen July 14, 1942 off the coast of Australia and was presumed crashed at sea.
A Commitment to Mutual Respect
In addition to the Gold Star exhibit and the annual Memorial Day assembly, MHS students will commemorate Gold Star alumni in the Hershey Memorial Day Parade for the sixth year in a row.
Milton Hershey School is proud of our students who humbly honor their alumni brothers and display commitment to one of the school’s four sacred values: mutual respect. Watch a live stream of this year’s Memorial Day assembly.
Milt Memories History Blog
MHS Department of School History works hard to preserve the Hersheys’ values and students’ cherished memories through articles, photos, interviews and artifacts. Follow along with our monthly blog series focused entirely on the fascinating school history and inspiring work of our founders.