On Veterans Day each year, we, as a country, pay tribute to all of the heroes who are members of the US military and who protect our country on domestic and foreign soil. As part of this spirit of appreciation, High School East held a dedication ceremony for the school’s new Military Support Wall and honored fallen US Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Denis C. Miranda with a memorial ceremony.
Two display cases make up the Military Support Wall, which is located in the lobby of the school near the cafeteria. One of the cases was dedicated in Miranda’s honor and the other case houses a list of High School East alumni who are active duty military members. Students in the newly created Military Support Club at High School East helped to plan the ceremony and created the displays that were unveiled during the dedication.
Denis C. Miranda was a 2003 graduate of High School East and was a member of the swim team during his high school years. He enlisted in the military shortly after graduation and became a Navy SEAL in 2007. While serving his country in Afghanistan in 2010, he and eight other service members were killed after their Blackhawk helicopter crashed while trying to land.
The Township of Toms River honored Miranda by creating The Denis C. Miranda, USN, Memorial Highway, which is located on Bay Avenue near the corner of Fischer Boulevard. However, administrators and teachers at East wanted to honor Miranda’s service to our country in some way at the school and felt the dedication ceremony and display case were a perfect fit.
“The school spirit at High School East is strong and Denis Miranda was a part of our Raider family,” said Scott Kenny, HSE safety officer and co-advisor of the Military Support Club. Kenny went on, “Many teachers and staff members remember Denis and were very emotional during the creation of this project and during the ceremony.”
Phillip Beachy is a teacher at High School East and also serves as a co-advisor of the Military Support Club. He is also a Navy captain and led members of the Military Support Club in a memorial wreath ceremony during the dedication. The two students who participated in the wreath ceremony were US Army PFC Joseph Gamboa and US Army PFC Steven Cruz. US Army Captain Rob Roma was a teacher at the school when Miranda was a student and also attended the ceremony.
At the beginning of the ceremony, HSE’s chorus performed and the band ended the ceremony with more patriotic music. It was emotional for all who attended, which included current High School East students, administrators, teachers, and Denis’s family members including his mother, father, brother and other family members.
Principal Pat Thomas felt that the ceremony was a great way to recognize people of good character. He told guests, “Today, we honor those who put themselves before others, those who stand up for their beliefs, and those who make sacrifices by serving their country.”
The Military Support Club is already working on its next project and the school is working on adding a military alumni page to its website. In the meantime, any High School East alumni who are interested in being added to the active duty list displayed at the school and on the website, should fill out this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfRF4QREjOw2ZYA0jASUYNiGGaWdxujhx_3ft3FvYKji__UjQ/viewform