KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Students, staff and community members gathered around the flag pole at Berean Christian School Tuesday to dedicate a new memorial for Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss.
It was a solemn, but proud day at the school as a bench with the words ‘bravery and sacrifice’ engraved near the school’s American flag were dedicated in front of a crowd in honor of Knauss.
Jon Farra, the head of the school, said he hopes the memorial can be a spot where students can reflect on the sacrifice of someone who once walked the same hallways as they do.
“My daughter is a sixth-grader here and I want her, as well as the other students, to know about the bravery and sacrifice of the good gifts God gives us,” said Farra. “They’re meant to be given away and for Ryan, we’re grateful for that.”
Friends and family of Sgt. Ryan Knauss were there for the dedication. His mother, Paula Knauss Selph, had a message for these students about life.
“In the journey, it may not be smooth, and it may be rocky, and you may lose things, and you may not have successes, but in the end, you just keep going,” said Knauss Selph. “We won’t forget Ryan.”
Farra said all year-long the life and sacrifice of Sgt. Knauss has had his students asking questions.
“It makes you question your purpose in life, what are you gonna do when you grow up is forever one of the school questions,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for these students to say ‘What do I want to do? Who do I want to become?'”
As the community moves toward the holiday, there are ways the Knauss is showing up unexpectedly.
“My wife and I were unpacking Christmas ornaments, like we all do, and this one we pulled out of a box like we’ve done for years, and put it on the tree,” he began. “The reason it’s significant is it says ‘from Bethlehem Ryan Knauss, 2008.”
You can see the memorial bench for Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss at the upper campus flag pole at Berean Christian School in Knoxville.