EBN: Walk of honor

EHS’ 12th annual Veterans Day celebration brings community closer

Ryan Bircher

Micah Wengler, News writer

They entered campus as strangers, but at the end of Veterans Day the veterans strode through the Commons, greeted by a human tunnel and a standing ovation from inspired students, Nov. 11.

“It’s a way to show our support as well as our appreciation for the things that they’ve done and the sacrifices that they’ve made for the betterment of our country.” Mr. George Calhoun, sophomore class principal, said.

Katie Campbell (12) was one of the students who worked the event.

“I was showing the veterans to the theater and just talking to them and making them feel welcome,” Campbell said. “They worked really hard to get where they’re at, and I think it’s important to show appreciation for them.”

The assembly began with the Presentation of the Colors by the Cadets of Missouri’s 81st Air Force Junior ROTC Program, followed by the singing of the National Anthem by the Treble Chamber Choir.

“I love the music for a program like this!” Mr. Kenneth Dames, Air Force veteran, said. “When they sing ‘God Bless America,’ it just goes through you. I was in the Air Force in 1952-1956. During the Korean War they were singing it, and now here it is, 2014, and we’re being honored in a high school.”

The keynote speaker Colonel Jack Jackson, USMC, discussed how many people don’t know what it takes to wear the uniform of a U.S. Military personnel, but when they honor the veterans who are wearing the uniform they are really honoring the country as a whole.

Blake Ruprecht (12) and Sydney Sager (11) presented Colonel Jackson with a certificate of gratitude.

“Giving up time with their families, losing their best friends in battle, and even sacrificing their lives is just some of what they go through.” Molly Westermeyer (10) said.  “It’s almost heartbreaking, but they do it for our freedom.” 

The Veterans Day assembly allowed the students to interact with the veterans, when they normally may not have the chance and express their gratitude, Mrs. Katie Melies, secretary to sophomore principal, said.

Mr. Robert Grayson, Army veteran, felt that it was important for the younger generation to not forget all of the sacrifices that have been made.

“It’s really nice the way they honor veterans.” Mr. Grayson said. “It’s important for kids to understand what people did for our freedom, and nowadays you kind of wonder if young people really understand that.”

Students like Sydney Sager agree with what Mr. Grayson and many other veterans think.

I think a chunk of our generation doesn’t understand,” Sager said.  “Some kids truly do appreciate and understand what they did for our country, but then there are those few that are wrapped up in the society that we have today, and so things like this help us make them understand.”

The days celebration worked to close the gap between the generations.

“The students and everybody have been so kind,” Mrs. Elizabeth Dames, wife of veteran Mr. Dames, said. “It’s very refreshing to see the students and how polite they are. It’s really the best.”

She  expressed gratitude for the ceremony; appreciating the time set aside to honor national heroes.

“Oh I just, I love it. I love it. One thing that struck us last year is that one student said ‘God bless you,’ and it really touched our hearts.”  Mrs. Dames said. “My husband hasn’t been feeling the best for the past few days and yesterday he told me, ‘I’m going no matter what!’”

Veterans Day was not just about being honored for their service; it was also about remembering those who were lost.

“Anytime you serve with a bunch of men and women, it’s a special bond.” Mr. Grayson said. “Nobody would really understand it unless they’ve done it. And you remember people that made it and didn’t make it.”

Not only does Veterans Day take the time to honor those who return from war, but to it honors those who never will. Veterans all around take this time to commemorate those they have lost.

“A lot of things happen to you when you’re in the service. You meet some really great people.” Mr. Sam Baudo, Navy veteran, said. “There was five of us that really went through the service together, and I’m the only one left. The other four guys are gone. So you do this for them. That’s it.”