Patriotic Day at Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School is a day meant to honor the service men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. The 18th annual event on Friday, April 1, included guest speakers and musical performances by students of Akimel and Kyrene de los Lagos.

Akimel and Desert Vista High School graduate Anthony Ameen gave his own personal account of why he chose to enter the military and how it has impacted his life.

"Nine-eleven hit home for me... it shook me and I wanted to do something," he said. "I went to the Army and then the Marines first and eventually went to the Navy recruiting office. I was looking for someone to take me in that was a good fit and they did."

Ameen, hospital corpsman third class, has since worked on a Navy freighter and also in an OBGYN and emergency room.

"I needed to gain some composure," he said. "I realized this is what I love to do."

Patricia Weegar, founding principal of Akimel and executive director of instructional services for Kyrene, helped bring the program to the school in 1993.

"We wanted to focus our patriotism and say thank you to those who choose to give up their lives to protect us around the world," she said. "This day is to think about how we need to say thank you and to understand the sacrificing they are doing."

A group of kindergarten students from Lagos performed songs like "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "Proud to be an America." The Akimel Wind Ensemble performed "Armed Forces on Parade" and the many veterans in the crowd stood and saluted the students as they played.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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