AGHS students celebrate area veterans

 Ash Grove High School honored area veterans on Friday, Nov. 9, with an assembly paying tribute to their service to the nation. About 75 veterans attended the event.
The day began with a breakfast prepared for the veterans and their family members by the AGHS chapter of the Family, Consumer and Community Leaders of America.
In his remarks welcoming the veterans to the assembly, Troy McMain, a history teacher at AGHS, told them that they had not only protected American freedom, but had made a difference for others around the globe as well.
“You have fought to ensure peace around the world,” he said. “You fought for your loved ones at home, but perhaps unknowingly beaconed the light of the United States to those who would not have otherwise had the experience. Ideas cannot be removed from the hearts and minds of those who are changed by the power of hope. You have made an eternal change in hearts and lives of those whom you sacrificed for unknowingly.”
After he finished speaking, McMain asked the members of the various branches of the military to stand and be recognized for their service.
A number of students also spoke during the assembly. The Ash Grove FFA Chapter’s MaKenna Johnson and Daniel Elliot recited “Ragged Old Flag,” a poem about the many conflicts the United States military had been in, and Aaron Rolewicz and Alexis Long spoke about the history of Veterans Day.
Perhaps the most touching comments, however, came from Dillon Magers as he gave his speech titled “Selfless Sacrifice.”
In his speech, Dillon praised all veterans, calling them “selfless” for their service. However, he also spoke of one veteran whom he personally knows, a Vietnam veteran he identified as “Bill.” Dillon said Bill was a prime example of selflessness; a soldier who chose to give more than his share of service during the Vietnam War, serving three tours of duty, continuing to volunteer after being wounded twice.
“In those days, the Army rotated soldiers through the country on one-year rotations. Despite this, he decided to stay. Even after being blown up and having shrapnel embedded in his back, he decided to stay.  After witnessing the horrors of war, he decided to stay. He was shot in the head on a rubber plantation outside of a little village named Loc Ninh when a routine patrol was ambushed, only a month away from a full three years in Vietnam. When his country called upon him to fight, he did. He continued to fight even after he had done his own part. He continued to fight until he no longer could.”
Dillon later said his friendship with Bill taught him to appreciate the sacrifices made by veterans for the sake of others.
“When I was born, (Bill) left a note on the door; it said, ‘Welcome home, Bub,’” Dillon said. “My parents told me about it when I got older, and he told me about it. I became friends with him. I would go to his house every day after school and talk with him and visit with him, and he basically became my best friend, even though there’s 60 years in between us, and his stories inspired me to really research more about the military and what exactly veterans have done for us.”
After the assembly concluded, the veterans were each presented with a special gift; a lapel pin which read “Proud to be a Veteran.”
James Hurd, an Army veteran, said he appreciated the honors the students paid to the veterans.
“I thought it was very good,” he said. “They all did a very good job.”
Charley Stark, another Army veteran and the grandfather of FFA’er Daniel Elliot, also said he enjoyed the assembly.
“The school really does a good job of honoring the veterans,” he said.
McMain said the student appreciation shown to the veterans went beyond the formal presentation.
“It’s not just the groups that are involved in the ceremony, but it’s also the kids who come out (and greet the veterans),” he said. “They love shaking hands with these men and women, and they just appreciate who they are.”



Lawrence County Record

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