For 27-year-old Heather Buller, Veterans Day wasn’t always particularly significant. And then her younger brother attended West Point, setting himself up for a career in the military.
Buller works in District 91’s administrative office on Desplaines and is one of approximately 50 employees and students in the public school system with a family member in the armed forces. Thomas Buller, Heather’s brother, returned from Afghanistan this month after serving a year with the 101st Airborne Division as a 1st lieutenant. During an hour-long ceremony at the middle school today, his name will join the dozens of others whose service makes tangible within the hallways and classrooms the importance of Veterans Day.
Heather and her brother, Brookfield natives, were both invited to attend the middle school’s program. He will be burying a fellow soldier and so cannot attend, but Heather said she wouldn’t miss it.
“I have the West Point license plate and I have the West Point sticker,” she said of the emblems that convey how proud she is of her brother. “Yep, that’s my car.”
Karen Bukowski, principal of the middle school, said that every three years the students are gathered for a large assembly to recognize Veterans Day. Approximately a dozen veterans with ties to the district will be on hand for this year’s service. On those years that an all-school assembly isn’t held, students participate in smaller projects that focus their attention on the significance behind Nov. 11. Two years ago, for example, sixth-graders wrote the names of local veterans in chalk on the sidewalk outside of the school.
What is most important, said Buller, is that Veterans Day is used to remind everyone of the sacrifices that so many families and soldiers endure.
“He left the day after Thanksgiving last year,” she said of her brother’s deployment to Afghanistan. “It was so hard and everyone was crying.”