Local veterans and their families gathered at Morgan County High School (MCHS) last Friday, the day before Veterans Day, to be celebrated by the local community for their bravery, sacrifice and unyielding patriotism.
The Morgan County High School Chorus sang special renditions of the National Anthem and “God Bless America,” bringing some of the veterans and families to tears.
This year’s event was led by Jim NeSmith, commander of Post 37 of the American Legion, and featured remarks by veteran and State Representative Dave Belton, and LTC. Derrick Dailey.
NeSmith opened the ceremony with words of praise for all the veterans, past and present, who have so bravely defended America and sacrificed their very lives for this country.
“A veteran is someone who has served in the military, but it is not as simple as that,” said NeSmith. NeSmith went on to point out that even those veterans who survived wars still make incredible sacrifices, often missing the most important moments back home.
“They had to miss birthdays, weddings, graduations, and sometimes, even funerals during their time of service,” reminded NeSmith.
Belton reminded the crowd of how we owe our very way of life to our servicemen and women who have fought throughout the centuries to protect our freedoms and liberties. Belton asked the crowd to consider other countries that are not as fortunate as the citizens of America.
“The truth is that even half of the globe today lives under the boots of tyranny,” said Belton. “With the prosperity here in America, it’s easy to forget that and take what we have for granted.”
Dailey, who served in the Air Force, encouraged the students present to be thankful for their freedoms and to use that freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness through staying in school and taking their education seriously.
“You have to work hard and listen to your teachers,” said Dailey. “You may stumble along the way and fall, but you get up and keep on moving…Ten percent of life is what happens to you, the other 90 percent is what you do about it.”
Dailey paid homage to the veterans present.
“A veteran is one who serves with respect and grace… and can rest peacefully at night knowing they have given all they could,” said Dailey.
MCHS’s band, Color Guard, AFJROTC all contributed to Friday’s celebration, too.
According to NeSmith, the Veterans Day ceremony has been held at the high school for about eight years. Before then, it was held in front of the courthouse, but the school system wanted to take an active role in hosting the event, seizing it as an opportunity to educate students about military service in addition to showing their gratitude to our local veterans.