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Milton Hershey School Community Reminded Of Freedom’s Cost

On Friday, May 24, the Milton Hershey School community remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The MHS Memorial Day Assembly began 70 years ago, in 1954, to honor America’s fallen, especially the MHS Gold Star Alumni.

Students carry flags during the school's 2024 Memorial Day Assembly.

MHS Senior Vice President of Education and Student Life Dr. Freda Martine encouraged attendees to consider the event’s lessons throughout Memorial Day weekend.

“Reflect on the opportunities we have all been offered because of the sacrifices of our 57 Gold Star Alumni, thousands of other service men and women, and their families,” she said. “They served heroically and laid down their lives for our country.”


MHS welcomed Lieutenant Junior Grade Aimee Granger as the assembly’s keynote speaker. Lt. Granger is a native of Falcon, Colorado. She enlisted in the United States Navy on Nov. 20, 2006. Upon completing Recruit Training Command in Illinois, she attended Hospital Corp “A” School.

Lieutenant Aimee Granger speakers during the Milton Hershey School 2024 Memorial Day Assembly.

Lt. Granger reminded the MHS community that America is the world’s greatest country. However, our freedoms were not acquired through complacency.

“It became the best as men and women volunteered by raising their right hand and took an oath to support and defend the constitution,” she said.

The American Constitution outlines our nation’s freedoms. Enemies often challenge those freedoms so defending the Constitution comes with a price.

“It is paid for with the lives of those who are willing to defend it,” she said.

Lt. Granger described her own Breakthroughs. She related her challenges to those MHS founders Milton and Catherine Hershey faced before their many successes.

“Their story is laced with hard work, perseverance, and love,” she said.

Lt. Granger encouraged the audience to respond positively to failures, much like Mr. Hershey did when his first two candy companies failed.

“You will be able to break through barriers and obstacles and enable yourself to rise to the standards that build highly productive teams,” she said.

Because of her perseverance, Lt. Granger is a recipient of several distinguished honors. Accolades include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with C, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

The MHS community also remembered the school’s 57 Gold Star Alumni, highlighting the first Gold Star Boy, Harold Ashenfelder.

“These sons of their Alma Mater died in defense of our country, offering the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” Lieutenant Colonel Tom Sites said.

Lt. Col. Sites serves with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard as the Chief of Intelligence at Joint Force Headquarters. He also teaches United States Government to MHS Senior Division students.

Following the 2024 Memorial Day Assembly, senior students attended a reverent wreath-laying ceremony at Hershey Cemetery. Earlier in the week, members of the Student Government Associations from all divisions placed flags around Founders Hall to honor those who died in service to America.

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Watch the 2024 Memorial Day Assembly

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