Clewiston High School teacher’s discovery leads to fitting memorial for fallen hero
CLEWISTON, Fla. – Crystal Drake was working as a substitute teacher inside a classroom at Clewiston High School when an old plaque caught her attention.
The plaque was a memorial for Lee Ford, who graduated from the school in 1966. He served in the Vietnam War and later died in the line of duty.
“When I saw the name, I knew it was my friend’s brother,” Crystal said. She called the discovery “a miracle” because the plaque had originally been located at the high school’s previous building, which had been demolished for decades.
What Crystal did next ensured Lee would receive a proper tribute within the new school’s walls for years to come. She began to raise money to restore the plaque and make it part of a larger memorial for the veteran.
“I was surprised and deeply touched,” David Ford, Lee’s brother, said. David and Lee’s other surviving siblings attended a ceremony at the school this week, where the new installation honoring Lee’s life was unveiled.
“We all have an opportunity to leave a legacy,” Crystal said. “And we really have to be thinking about what legacy we’re leaving,” she added while noting that Lee left a lasting legacy through the Clewiston community and beyond.
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