February 19th is a very special day for Seitz Elementary. It is the day the Seitz community celebrates the life of Lieutenant General Richard J. Seitz. It is also his birthday.
Lt. Gen. Seitz, a Kansas native, made an unforgettable and lasting impact on the Fort Riley and Junction City communities. There are more than several places in town where memories and pictures of him enrich the walls. It is rumored that he still has his own corner at Tyme Out Steakhouse, a long-standing favorite restaurant of Junction City residents, and of Lt. Gen. Seitz.
During his 95 years of life, Lt. Gen. Seitz had a motto that he lived by: Be Kind. Many people can recall that he practiced Random Acts of Kindness every day. He was known to hold the door open for strangers often. One family member recalled that he used to bake cookies on Christmas Eve and drive around to all the gates on Fort Riley to pass the cookies out to guards.
The birthday of Lt. Gen. Seitz is an important occasion to Seitz family. It is so important that his family travelled from many faraway places to celebrate it with the Seitz Elementary community. This year also happens to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the 517 Parachute Infantry Regiment landing in France during WWII, which was commanded by Lt. Gen. Seitz. The event has its own commemorative patch, and his family was happy to hand some of them out at the birthday celebration.
Lt. Gen. Seitz’s birthday celebration started early with a school-wide assembly. In addition to students and teachers, Lt. Gen. Seitz’s son, nephews, extended family, and representatives from Irwin Army Hospital were in attendance.
Jodi Testa, Principal at Seitz Elementary, led the Dragons through saying the Pledge of Allegiance, then students sang patriotic songs together, which included The Dragon Song (the school anthem) and Patriotic Medley. Students were invited to help name their dragon, the mascot of Seitz Elementary, which was inspired by the mascot of the 517. Select students were invited to ask questions of family members about Lt. Gen. Seitz, and family members shared sweet and funny memories of him with the group.
To close out the celebration, those in attendance were treated to a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, sung by Col. Brown, of Irwin Army Hospital. The students stood and sang along with him, before ending the assembly with the 517 Cheer and heading to their classrooms for the day.
The celebrations will continue this evening with an information gathering in the Lt. General’s corner at Tyme Out, where his family plans to toast to his picture and his memory.
Happy Birthday Lt. Gen. Seitz!