A legacy of service
The three North Harrison schools located on the Ramsey campus combined to offer a Veterans Day program Friday morning in the high school gymnasium.
Veterans, numbering close to 70, were the honored guests for the ceremony and were treated to a breakfast provided by the North Harrison High School’s FFA chapter members.
After the presentation of colors, the band performed ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and attendees recited the pledge of allegiance, led by junior Jason Schmidt.
Senior Janelle Amy welcomed the audience, which filled the lower level of both sides of the gym.
‘Our veterans share a legacy of service that crosses generational lines and upholds the values upon which our nation was founded: service to a cause greater than self,’ she said. ‘Let us then, as a grateful nation, hold them in the highest regard as we offer tributes through this ceremony.’
The program continued with a proclamation from President Donald Trump declaring Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.
‘Our veterans represent the very best of America,’ Ethan Jobe said, reading the president’s proclamation. ‘They have bravely answered the call to serve in the finest military force in the world, and they have earned the dignity that comes with wearing the uniform and defending our great flag. On Veterans Day, we honor all Americans who have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, both in times of war and peace. For nearly 100 years, since the end of World War I, Veterans Day has given us a time to pay due respect to our veterans, who have passed the torch of liberty from one generation to the next. … ‘
Evan Book, Cassidy Thompson and Vecelia Martin introduced each veteran present, by name, branch of military and time served, including one World War II Navy veteran, Lawrence Parker, who served for 20 years.
The audience was told to hold their applause until each veteran was named, but, in a show of appreciation for the eldest veteran, they clapped after Parker stood to be honored.
Ed Sieg, a veteran who served from 1945 to 1948, also was honored, along with many others from all wars up until current service men and women.
Isabelle Banet, Cougar Idol winner, sang Jamey Johnson’s ‘In Color.’
A group of students in succession ‘ Morgan Friedholdt, Molly Coomer, Ethan Goldman and Josh Schroeder ‘ explained the meaning of Veterans Day.
‘While those who died are also honored, Veterans Day is intended to thank and honor all those who served in military in peace and war,’ Schroeder said. ‘Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans to acknowledge service is appreciated.’
The students noted Memorial Day is reserved to honor those who have died in service or from injuries that occurred in service.
Students continued the program by giving a brief summary of each war that involved living veterans.
The band performed ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’ by John Cacavas, and the choir and band performed ‘Armed Forces ‘ The Pride of America’ as members from the respective military branches stood when their song was played.
Elementary students, filling a good portion of one side of the lower level of the gym, stood to sign ‘America the Beautiful.’
Shelby Troncin played ‘Taps’ before Dr. Lance Richards, superintendent of North Harrison Community School Corp., made closing remarks.
‘You wonder about sacrifice, but when you meet someone that lost a parent who fought in Vietnam, and for those sitting in the audience, some probably had lost parents and friends in World War II, Korean War,’ Richards said, ‘but I had a friend from high school, Richard Stahl. His father, Albin Stahl, in the later years of the Vietnam War, lost his life in that last wave of folks that served in Vietnam. So any time I’m at the Vietnam War Memorial, I make sure to find Albin Stahl’s name and I trace it, or more recently, take a picture of it and send it to Richard. Just to keep his memory alive and note his sacrifice.’
Richards said he looked out at the young high school faces during the ceremony and had a thought.
‘It struck me, we talk about the men we send to war, but really, many times, it’s boys that we send to war,’ he said. ‘My own grandfather was 19 years old when he served on an aircraft carrier in the south pacific. My dad was in Germany at 17.’
Richards thanked the veterans for sacrificing their time to serve their country.
‘Time is really the only thing that we can give … time is really the only commodity you have in which you have true control,’ he said. ‘You took time out of your lives to sacrifice that time and serve for our country. The respect you’ve shown for our country in the sacrifice should be noted by everyone.’
Before dismissing students, Matt Kellems, principal at North Harrison High School, thanked the student councils from both the middle and high schools for coordinating the program.
Lining the upper railing of the gym was a paper chain filled with red, white and blue rings. On each was a name of a service man or woman who was a family member or friend of an elementary student. Flags also adorned the gymnasium.
A ‘missing man table’ also was set up, a small table with a white tablecloth, set for one, symbolizing the frailty of one isolated prisoner. The white table represents the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms. A single red rose in a vase represents the blood shed in sacrifice to ensure freedom. A slice of lemon on the plate represents the bitter fate of the missing, and salt represents the fallen tears of family as they wait. The inverted glass, as well as an empty chair, represent the fact that the missing and fallen can’t partake.