The stars will be displayed at Saturday's patriotic parade in Boardman, and then sent to the victims' families.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
Frank Pershep and Trisha Marks never knew each other, but a laminated red, white and blue paper star will forever link them.
Pershep was at work on the 92nd floor of World Trade Center tower 2 in New York on the morning of Sept. 11 when an airliner smashed into and eventually toppled the skyscraper.
The 59-year-old Brooklyn man hasn't been seen since and is presumed dead.
His family will soon receive a star, decorated in red and blue stripes by Trisha, a fourth-grader at Robinwood Lane Elementary School in Boardman.
"This star shines in honor of your loved one," she wrote on the back of the 11-inch long star, which includes Pershep's name in black, bold letters.
"May it keep a bright spot in your heart forever. I'm proud to be an American and hope this star makes you feel better."
Project: It is one of nearly 4,000 stars decorated by elementary schoolchildren throughout the Mahoning Valley that will adorn Vindicator delivery vans and trucks during The Valley's Tribute to American Heroes: A Red, White and Blue Parade.
The parade, which will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday on Market Street in Boardman, is presented by The Vindicator and WFMJ TV 21, and sponsored by K-105, Y-103, Hot 101 and The DeBartolo Corp. -- Denise and John York.
The stars will then be sent to the families of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Therapy: Laurel Ducay, a first-grade teacher at West Boulevard Elementary School in Boardman, said the star project, initiated by The Vindicator, helped her pupils feel a part of the nation's recovery.
"They need to feel that they somehow can contribute and make a difference and show that they care, too," Ducay said.
"Even though they're only first-graders, it's their way of contributing. Maybe they can't send a $100 check, but they can color a star."
At Jackson Elementary School in Youngstown, about 300 pupils colored stars.
"For some of them, I think it was a little therapy," said Beverly Lee, a fourth-grade teacher. "It gave them a feeling of being a part of what is going on."
Messages: Tonya Lapin, a fifth-grader in Columbiana, colored the points of her star red, white and blue for the family of Dong Lee of Leesburg, Va., an engineer for Boeing and a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.
"I am sorry for the loss of Dong Lee," Tonya wrote on the back of her star. "It really hurts to lose someone from your family. Remember, he will always be in your hearts, forever."
An unsigned star from a pupil at Hayes Middle School in Youngstown for Jill A. Metzler, 32, an Aon Corp. employee who was on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center crash, says: "When someone dies, they still live on in you and me and everyone that loved them."
Thomas Geer, 11, of Columbiana, colored his star for Edmond Young with horizontal red, white and blue stripes. Young, 22, of Owings, Md., who had a 4-year-old son, was a support technician at the Pentagon.
"I feel so bad for your family's loss of Edmond," Geer wrote. "He must have been a hard worker because he worked in the Pentagon.
"Your family will always be in my heart, and your family has my prayers."