Honoring a true, heroic pen pal

February 11, 2009 3:54:58 PM PST
Young students from a school in Voorhees, New Jersey, held some big festivities for a soldier in Iraq. Each grade had a special welcome for Sgt. Major, Michael Zelenski, of the New Jersey Army National Guard, who's home on a two-week leave from Iraq.

Sgt. Major Zelenski didn't want his time home to pass, without personally thanking these students.

"Thanks a lot for everything, I didn't expect this, I wish my soldiers were here to see this, thank you a lot," Sgt. Zelenski said.

Speech teacher, Jacquelyn Price, organized many of the nearly 500 students to write letters to Zelenski and his men stationed throughout Iraq.

"We wanted them to know we didn't forget them and how proud we are that they are protecting us everyday," Price said.

The best part was getting letters back from Zelenski and the other soldiers.

Zelenski's wife has been a teacher at Kresson Elementary for 19 years, she brought their two sons to today's celebration.

"I mean I don't know how to put it into words; it's really wonderful," she said.

Zelenski presented the school with an American flag flown at the US Embassy in Iraq.

Then the mayor of Vorhees presented him with a hero's commendation to the applause of the students.

"I guess it made him feel pretty happy to see that people here care," fourth grader Ben Forsman said.

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