Milton Hershey School Memorial Day Assembly Honors Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice
On Friday, May 25, the Milton Hershey School community gathered to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedoms. The MHS Memorial Day Assembly is a special all-school event that began in 1954. This year, the school welcomed SEAC Ramón “CZ” Colón-López, the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Assembly was hosted by 2012 MHS Alumna of the Year Kimberly Elenberg ’88. Elenberg retired in 2022 from a distinguished 27-year military career. MHS had the honor of playing a role in her retirement ceremony, which was held at Mount Vernon in Virginia.
Elenberg encouraged all students to serve, whether through the United States military or civilian volunteer opportunities. She commended MHS seniors who will serve in the Armed Forces after graduation in June.
“Remember our students who have the courage, and respect those who came before you,” Elenberg said.
Colón-López focused his remarks on why Memorial Day is held as a sacred time of remembrance. He encouraged the MHS community to always take time during Memorial Day weekend to remember Americans who gave their life defending the United States Constitution.
“We fight not because we hate what is in front of us,” said Colón-López. “We fight because we love what we left behind.”
As part of the Assembly, MHS paid tribute to its 57 Gold Star Alumni who gave their lives in service during a time of war or conflict. This special group of individuals was honored through a presentation by retired Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer ’70—who was the 2004 MHS Alumnus of the Year.
Additionally, MHS senior Naveah Heverling provided a roll call of the MHS Gold Star Alumni. Heverling intends to join the military after graduating from MHS in June. To show appreciation for her commitment, Colón-López presented her with his personal challenge coin which includes the inscription: “Amateurs train until they get it right. Professionals train until they cannot get it wrong.”
Other graduating seniors—who will be enlisting or have already joined various military branches—participated in the Assembly through readings and leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Also, students in the Senior Division Band and New Horizons Select Choir performed several patriotic selections.
Following the Memorial Day Assembly, the Class of 2023 attended a reverent wreath-laying ceremony at Hershey Cemetery, alongside Colón-López and members of the MHS community. Prior to leaving campus, Colón-López attended a reception with students and school leadership. This opportunity allowed students and staff to engage with one of the highest-ranking military officials in the United States.