Students, parents and faculty gathered in the auditeria of West Jefferson Middle School Friday afternoon to honor Veterans Day.
The assembly’s primary focus was honoring local veterans, whose shared experiences range from the Bay of Pigs to Cold War era Germany to modern day Iraq, and teaching the 300-plus middle schoolers the history behind monumental American traditions, such as the Pledge of Allegiance and taps.
An assortment of students presented to the crowd, their contributions ranging from reciting statistics about today’s military service to the playing of “America the Beautiful” on bagpipes.
Taylor Fry and Korbin Keith recited the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields” as some veterans on stage teared up, no doubt remembering those who have passed.
Towards the end of the ceremony, the student body was given the chance to ask the veterans questions. One student inquired, “What was the scariest part of being in the military?”
Mitch Gregnac, an Army Lt. Col. and the current county truancy officer, told students, “Leaving home with a pregnant wife and two kids behind.”
He went on to explain, “I was more scared of what would happen to them. Luckily, West Jeff is a great community that helped take care of things.”
Brig. Gen Maria Kelly, who retired just this summer from the Army National Guard, urged students to be good people in their daily lives and treat people how they hope to be treated.
“When [service members] took the oath… they didn’t know you. They didn’t ask a lot of questions about who they were laying down their life for. They just did it. How do you thank that veteran? You live your life in a good way,” Kelly told the crowd.
The hour-long assembly ended with a heavy moment of silence, broken only by a soft, but powerful, rendition of taps played by two students.
Reach Erin Thompson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615.
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