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db Conard, The Quill

Kids Who Get It, Salute Our Veterans

West Central Middle School like thousands of other schools across our country, had a Veterans Day Program in the school gym.

I can not imagine a better program anywhere in the USA than the one I was privileged to attend in Stronghurst Tuesday morning. All of the same ingredients that could be found in most other programs across the country, Stronghurst had them, plus some.

There wasn't just one band, there were two. Both the Jr. and Senior High Bands played and did a great job playing patriotic music that helped set the tone for the day.

American Legion Post 765 posted and retired the colors, the band accompanied, and everyone sang the National anthem which stirred the emotions in many an old veteran.

We all said the pledge. We were lucky to have some good politicians who cared enough to come, and observe, and talk about soldiers and veterans-they kept it about the veterans and their service to this great country.

Rep. Rich Myers talked about the wisdom of the older solders in the room. It was only yesterday that they were like today's new recruits who are now a part of that wheel that keeps going around. The young soldier is now learning from the wisdom of those who have gone before them.

Senator John Sullivan emphasized not only appreciation for the Veterans on this day but that it be something that is not limited to one day but that every day we all have as Americans, only because of our veterans.

There were a lot of Navy in the room when the different services were asked to stand as their anthems were played, one marine , no one from the Coast Guard, a good showing of Army, and a hand full of Air Force blue.

Sydney Bigger, Student Council President gave a professional and moving military video tribute "Thank You Veterans" which kept everyone's attention and was powerful.

The Jr. High chorus sang the upbeat "America, Of Thee I Sing," with enthusiasm.

Then there were the winners of the essay contest, three young people who had each found a unique way of describing something meaningful about Veterans.

Grant Corzatt 6th grader, was one of the winners for his thoughts on the everyday appreciation of Veterans.

Kayla Markey 7th grader, spoke to the hearts of soldiers in her winning essay, talking about their families and the hardships they endured.

Then Andy Lewis, 8th grader, wrote in his winning essay, of the simple things that were missed too often by soldiers away from home and their families, like holidays. He also described the long term sacrifices and the nightmares that follow.

Monica Brooks, Student Council Vice President, told the story of Taps, followed by the playing of Taps by Mike Lewis and Rachael Allaman.

It was beautiful and well done and could not help but touch every Veteran profoundly.

In the back of the gym there were displays representing each of our nations conflicts and wars from WWI to present day. The students had gone so far as to dress in period uniforms.

One young man was so proud to be wearing a uniform that he literally seemed about to burst. He couldn't have stood at attention any straighter if he'd tried and his salute was one of the most serious I have ever witnessed.

I see Logan Wood wearing his own Air Force uniform sometime in the future serving his country with the pride that he showed today.

To me as a Veteran, I found Treasure in the students of West Central Middle School who really seemed to get it and who seemed to appreciate the sacrifices each veteran had made. These kids understood the seriousness of it. They weren't just going through the motions but there was a sense of genuine appreciation for their veterans.

Most of this attitude has to have come from a real effort on the part of the faculty and staff at the school.

But most particularly from the efforts of teacher Vicky Keever who was to a large extent responsible for such an outstanding Veterans Day Celebration.

It's those every day thank yous that can mean so much.

On behalf of the veterans, we thank you, too.

Student Logan Wood salutes as he represents an Air Force Veteran.