FRANKFORT — The Purple Heart Medal represents the physical — and sometimes ultimate — sacrifice a soldier has made for his or her country.

On Friday, Kathy Ashe spoke about the Purple Heart earned by her son, Philip, during his 20 years of service with the U.S. Marine Corps.

She said he was deployed four times during his service — once to Iraq in 2006, and to Afghanistan in 2009, 2010 and 2013 as a special operations operator.

"I held my breath every time he went," she said.

The Mohawk resident said the two things she took comfort in was her faith in God and knowing her son was doing what made him happy.

"He was happy dying for his country. He would have no regrets," she said.

Ashe said it was during his deployment in 2010 that a vehicle he was riding in was struck twice by an improvised explosive device. Despite suffering injuries from that attack, she said he volunteered to be deployed a fourth and final time in 2013. She said he would eventually return home from the deployment early due to the injuries he previously suffered.

Ashe shared the story about Philip during the Frankfort-Schuyler Elementary School’s 27th annual Veterans Day program on Friday, along with the service of another son Ryan who was in the Marine Corp Reserves and the Army Reserves.

Ashe brought the Purple Heart Medal Philip received for the injuries he endured, and students had a chance to take a closer look at it during her speech. She also explained the history of the Purple Heart and its importance.

"I wanted the children to know the meaning and the importance of the Purple Heart," she said after giving her speech. "… I don’t know if children understand quite well what it is and I wanted to bring that information to the children."

Ashe asked the students to be supportive of soldiers and veterans. "There are men and women who are out there fighting every day … for all of your freedoms and all your values," she said during the program. "… Be respectful and supportive of your service members."

Frankfort-Schuyler Elementary School students gathered to celebrate and honor veterans during the annual event Friday at the school, which included songs, speakers and, of course, a salute to veterans.

Other speakers included state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, Maj. Scott Helmer, whose daughter Brynlee attends the school, and state Sen. James Seward, R-Oneonta.

Seward said students don’t need to turn to Hollywood actors or major sports athletes to find heroes. "[They] can look at the men and women right in this room," he said. "They’re in our post offices, churches and this morning, right in our school."

Students participated in several songs and presentations throughout the event, including "You’re a Grand Old Flag," "American Everyday," "Mighty United" and "Heart of America." A video presentation by fifth-grade students and the reading of winning "Stars and Stripes Forever" essays by Gia Kaleta and Joseph Mathlin were other hightlights. Gia dressed as the Statue of Liberty as a part of her prize for the winning essay and Joseph dressed as Uncle Sam.

The event also included an opportunity for veterans to introduce themselves

Principal Melanie Welch said in an email Friday that this year’s event was a success.

"Each celebration I am amazed with the number of veterans that attend our program," she said. "We had nearly 150 veterans and their guests join us today."

"I am moved by the children's demonstration of respect and patriotism," added Welch. "Frankfort-Schuyler continues to honor our veterans because we recognize the ultimate sacrifice the heroes make every day for us."

Welch noted the community supports the school’s veterans program by making numerous donations to the event, adding veterans attending the event had breakfast and a fully-catered lunch with the help of teachers, staff and local businesses.