On Thursday, Sept. 2nd, Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy students lined the streets of Roosevelt Road waving flags, saluting, and saying thank you to more than a dozen U.S. troops returning home from the Iraq war.
The entire school came out to anchor the hero’s welcome which was reserved for members of the local 318th Army Reserve Public Affairs Unit. Hundreds of Forest Park residents lined the streets to salute our community’s very own hometown heroes. For many of the troops, the return home follows tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After being deployed three times in seven years, these troops were among the last under Operation Iraqi Freedom to leave Iraq. PMSA students say they were happy to welcome them home for good.
“It was so nice to welcome them back home,” said PMSA junior Antezia Glenn. “They have been in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for us. I just wish we could have welcomed home more troops. I wish we could have done more for them.”
PMSA junior Jarron Gaddis echoed those sentiments.
“It felt pretty good to welcome them home,” he said. “They deserve to just come home and be with their families. It would have been nice if we could have done more.”
Most students say they wanted to do more for the returning troops, not realizing that a hero’s welcome can mean so much. One reservist, who has no family to return to in Forest Park, said it meant everything.
"A simple smile, a flower, a handshake. Anything means a thousand words when you have no one there."
Following the big welcome celebration soldiers attended a private reception. They were also welcomed back by Governor Quinn, and the Mayor of Forest Park. Mayor Calderone helped to organize the celebration and get the school involved. He said it was important to show appreciation for the soldiers and all that they have done.