Local schools pay tribute to veterans
Carroll County schools held special assemblies Friday, Nov. 9, and Monday, Nov. 12, to honor the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day and recognize local veterans for their service.
Berryville Intermediate School expressed its gratitude for veterans Friday with musical performances and student remarks.
Principal Lisa Geren welcomed visitors to the event.
“When you think back, Francis Scott Key wrote ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ almost 200 years ago,” she said, “and he called America ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave.’ Even today, it’s very apt and appropriate.”
Geren continued, “Throughout this nation’s history, American soldiers, airmen, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard members have bravely answered the call to defend our freedom, to aid our friends and allies and to turn back aggressors. We can never fully repay these people.”
She said more than 650,000 people have lost their lives and more than 1.4 million were wounded in service.
“We can, however, show our gratitude through our celebrations such as this,” Geren said. “We want to thank each and every one of you veterans and for the veterans that are out there today for taking the time and giving your life for our country.”
Students then made remarks about Veterans Day and its significance. Maynor Valiente, Jacee Hoskins, Madelyn Martin, MT Tom, Karson Casey, Jakin Magee, Andrew Griesenauer, Brooke Clark, Anastasia Martz, David Arrizon and Katrielle Culling took turns reading their remarks.
“The service members we honor today came from many walks of life,” Valiente said, “but they all share some fundamental qualities; they possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness and dedication to duty. All these qualities are needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.”
“Many didn’t ask to leave their homes to fight on distant battlefields,” Hoskins said. “They didn’t even volunteer. They didn’t go to war because they love fighting. They were called to be part of something bigger than themselves. They are ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways at extreme times. They rose to the nation’s call because they wanted to protect a nation which has given them and us so much.”
“Millions of Americans have fought and died on battlefields here and abroad,” said Tom, “to defend our freedoms and way of life. Today, our troops continue to make the ultimate sacrifices and, even as we lose troops, more Americans step forward to say ‘I’m ready to serve’ and follow in the footsteps of generations of fine Americans.”
The fourth-grade classes also honored veterans by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “On Veterans Day,” “Proud of Our Veterans,” and “God Bless America.”
Students introduced the veterans in attendance, and featured speaker Samuel Suffal discussed the significance of Veterans Day.
Berryville High School held its Veterans Day Assembly on Monday. Students Delwin Portillo and Anya Sincero welcomed veterans and their families to the event.
“We are here today to honor your achievements, courage and dedication,” Sincero said. “We would like to recognize our veterans by showing a short film produced by our high school gifted and talented (GT) students.”
The short documentary featured interviews with local veterans in which students asked them about their service and why they chose to enlist.
After the video, the Berryville Choir performed “A Tribute to the Armed Forces,” and the Berryville High School Band performed “Amber Waves of Grain Symphonic Rhapsody on America the Beautiful.”
“We would now like to present our veterans with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of their selfless service to our country,” Portillo said.
After the assembly, a luncheon, put on by the Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Food Production class, was provided to all veterans and their guests.
Green Forest High School recognized veterans at its annual assembly on Friday, Nov. 9, in the Grim Gym.
Students Tońo Mendez and Stacy Flores introduced local veterans who were in attendance. Third-grader Emerson DeMeyer then read a brief “thank you” message to the veterans.
“Veterans Day is a day to honor and celebrate those who served our country,” she said. “It’s a day to remember those who didn’t come back and also a day to thank and appreciate the ones that are here. Veterans serve for us and our freedom, and we should respect that they put their lives on the line just for us.”
DeMeyer said she wanted to give a special thanks to her dad for his service.
“Thank you for your service in the United States Marine Corps,” DeMeyer said. “Your stories and your love for ‘the best country in the world,’ as you like to put it, inspires me to one day join the United States military.”
Student council president Caleb Marroquin welcomed guests to the ceremony.
“Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, not only celebrates the fine men and women who serve our country,” he said, “but also celebrates the end of World War I. This year is a special occasion because it is the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day.”
Marroquin later introduced the guest speaker, retired Army Major Fred Becker.
“He graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in New Jersey in 1965,” Marroquin said. “At the age of 17 a few weeks after graduated, he enlisted in the Naval Air Reserve. Upon graduation from reserve boot camp, he went to St. Bernard College in Alabama. After earning his wings and his 20-year military journey, which included two combat tours in Vietnam and several other countries around the world, he retired from the army as a major in 1982.”
He continued, “He married the late Rose Becker on March 14, 1970. The couple raised three children and currently have five grandchildren, all of whom either have been or are presently students at Green Forest High School. Many of you may also recognize Mr. Becker as the often-called-upon substitute teacher.”
Becker thanked the faculty and students for having him, saying he was honored to be invited to speak on Veterans Day.
“The reason I joined the military is because I believed then and I believe now that I was called to,” he said.
He said the most important lessons he learned from school and his service are that all life is precious and how to listen. He said several people have asked him why he enlisted when he was “safe on a college campus.”
“The Good Lord calls all of us to some purpose in our lives, and in May 1967, he called me to enlist,” Becker said. “I would like to thank you all for inviting me to speak today. May God bless all of you and these great United States of America.”
Also at the ceremony, the Green Forest choirs sand “Singing Freedom’s Song” and “America,” and the Green Forest High School Band performed “Times Remembered” and “Armed Forces Salute.”
Kate Manuel shared the story of the song “Taps,” which Angel Lemus and Jeremiah Day then played.
Eureka Springs High School held an assembly Monday morning where principal David Gilmore welcomed local veterans. Gilmore said he hoped students would honor veterans and understand the sacrifice veterans have made for the county.
“I know we have a few young men and women out there in the crowd that are planning to join the Army or the armed forces after graduation,” Gilmore said. “I want you to know I deeply respect that. That’s an honorable thing to serve our county.”
You can’t truly understand what veterans have experienced, Gilmore said, unless you’ve experienced it yourself. While he’s not a veteran, Gilmore said he’s proud of his family members who have served.
“Can you imagine going to a foreign land to fight others on their turf? It must be terrifying,” Gilmore said. “Can you imagine if you were a husband or a wife raising children while your spouse was off serving on their own? It’s tough.”
Gilmore remembered the terrorist attack on 9/11, saying it brought the country together and made hime more patriotic.
“I proudly stand for the nation’s flag and The Star Spangled Banner,” Gilmore said.
Young people can honor veterans, Gilmore said, by living life to the fullest.
“Get an education. Vote,” Gilmore said. “They are not protecting the country so you can just blow off your life and be a drain on society. Honor your veterans by showing them respect and living your life to the fullest.”
The assembly continued, with performances from the high school band and high school and middle school choirs. The students then heard from special speaker Col. Wylie Nolen, who served in the Air Force during World War II. Nolen said he was honored to be at the assembly.
“What a really, really wonderful way to welcome the veterans,” Nolen said.
Nolen encouraged the students to consider joining the military.
“It’s an excellent way to get started, and it’s a very rewarding way of life,” Nolen said. “I think you could be very proud of yourself if that’s where you choose to go.”
Nolen described the history of Veterans Day, saying the first Veterans Day commemoration was held in Birmingham, Ala., in 1947.
“Veterans Day is for all veterans, whether they made it through the war or not,” Nolen said. “Alive or dead, it’s for all us veterans out there.”
In the military, Nolen said, the goal is to leave no one behind. Nolen remembered when a fighter pilot was shot down over North Vietnam. The helicopter sent to rescue the fighter pilot was also shot down, Nolen said, so the military sent a second helicopter.
“That was shot down, too. I don’t know how much effort they made to pick up that one man,” Nolen said, “but I’ll tell you it’s good to know that if your luck runs out, Uncle Sam is going to try to get you back again. It’s not always possible, but the effort will be made.”
Eureka Springs does a good job honoring veterans, Nolen said. He described the Battle Cross, a memorial to those who never made it home. In the cross, Nolen said, the helmet and dog tags represent the veteran who has died. The rifle and the bayonet represent a time for prayer, he said, and the boots signify that the veteran has made his last hike into his final battle. Another tradition, Nolen said, is the performance of Taps at military funerals.
“If that doesn’t make you cry, you need to go to a doctor, because there’s something wrong with you,” Nolen said. “Taps makes me cry every time.”
Nolen asked students to show respect to veterans.
“They gave away their tomorrow so you can have today,” Nolen said. “And military veterans aren’t the only people who have given their lives for you. I’d encourage you to give the same respect to our law enforcement people, to our firefighters and to our first responders.”
The assembly was followed by a lunch for veterans provided by FFA, Rotary Interact, Harts Family Center, Matthew Eckman’s class and the cafeteria staff.