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North Syracuse vets called out for honors

Kyle Francis receives his certificate of appreciation for his military service. Francis was wounded in 2010 in Marja, Afghanistan, and, during his recovery, was diagnosed with ALS.

Kyle Francis receives his certificate of appreciation for his military service. Francis was wounded in 2010 in Marja, Afghanistan, and, during his recovery, was diagnosed with ALS. Matthew Liptak

— A lone voice called out in the Cicero-North Syracuse auditorium on the evening of Nov. 16. It was deep and respectful.

“Semper Fi, brother!”

Kyle Francis had just painstakingly made his way up the aisle on crutches to receive his certificate of appreciation from the North Syracuse Central School District. He was among 166 Cicero-North Syracuse graduates who were the inaugural induction into the district’s Military Honor Roll.

A rousing round of applause and standing ovation followed for Francis, a Marine veteran who was wounded by two hostile gun shots in Marja, Afghanistan, in 2010.

Francis, who was diagnosed with ALS during recovery from his injuries, continues to receive treatment, but said he appreciated the tribute to him and his fellow veterans from the school district.

““I wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “I didn’t know that many people knew who I was. I think it’s nice bringing the community together and recognizing everybody whose served. I respect it a lot.”

Francis was among more than 100 in the crowd of the auditorium for Friday night’s tribute. It included some comments by Dan Bowles, associate superintendent for teaching and learning, a presentation of the flag by the Air Force color guard and a rendition of “Taps” on trumpet for which the audience stood at attention.

The inductees who were present then gathered by their branch of service and made their way one by one as their name was called to receive their certificates.

The ceremony was the result of a brainstorm of some of the members of the district’s Wall of Distinction committee. That wall is used to highlight graduates of the district who have achieved a high level of prominence in their personal or professional lives.

“This came together [because] Bill Brown, Stan Finkle and a few members of the committee sit on the Wall of Distinction for the district,” Bowles said. “We were getting applications also for people in the military. It just dawned on them, ‘Wow, what an honor it would be if we honored separately the people that served in the armed forces.’ [We] stepped on an unbelievable idea that supports veterans and the community and the response has been absolutely phenomenal.”

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