It was about two years ago that Pleasant Valley student QuiQue Riojas Berazaluce, now 16 and a junior, approached school officials about doing more to celebrate and honor veterans on Veterans Day.
Principal Darren Erickson and former Principal Mike Zimmer realized he was right. They had observed a moment of silence and Color Guard already.
“But they wanted something more visual to have every year,” Erickson said. “We were trying out best to do something less institutional so we started brainstorming and the whole team stepped but most of the credit goes to our students.”
Earlier this week, the school held its second Veterans Day service with its Veteran's Wall — a large mural and the newest addition, an Alumni Veterans Kiosk, said Mary Johnson, career coordinator.
The tribute is located outside the school's Main Office.
Johnson now is in charge of gathering names of local veterans to add to the memorial. Currently, she has collected 39 names of veterans — all former Pleasant Valley students — with nine additional names given to her that she is tracking down.
The kiosk honors alumni who have served in the military or are now active military. The wall, where the kiosk is located, features a full-size photo of local veterans during a flag raising ceremony at a PV football game. There also is a tribute to a serviceman, an alum, who died in conflict.
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She said the kiosk is an electronic screen where people can scroll through, viewing photographs and the backgrounds of each veteran.
QuiQue said his parents are legalized citizens of the United States and although he was born here, he is not yet a citizen. But that will happen, he said.
Nevertheless, the Pleasant Valley junior feels strongly about remembering our veterans. “I respect this all very much but is very new to me,” he said. '”For me it was a work of mercy for those who came before us."
Three veterans on the mural have died — two killed in action and a third committed suicide after returning from serving in the Middle East.
In addition, veterans Bob Brockhouse and John Ortega, both of Bettendorf, are two of those on the mural. Brockhouse's portrait is featured there raising the flag during a recent football game.
“Last year, I got to hand out the flags to those three families who lost loved ones,” Brockhouse said. “It was one of the hardest things I had to do.”
Both men said are humbled and honored to be part of the project.
Pleasant Valley students not directly involved in the project still are proud of it.
“I think it is real cool,” said Ethan Hunt, 17. “It is great to have them remembered.”