By Tia Lynn Ivey
The community gathered to celebrate local veterans last Monday at Morgan County High School in honor of Veterans Day.
Every year, Morgan County High School opens its doors and welcomes veterans and their families as students, teacher, and guest speakers pay homage to their brave service and sacrifice for the good of country.
The Morgan County High School sung a moving rendition of the National Anthem at Monday morning’s event.
State Representive Dave Belton spoke at the event.
“Generations of people all around the world all have the same desire for Peace and freedom,’ said Belton. “It is easy to think that because our nation’s wealth and security that everyone around the world is safe and free, but the truth is, even today, half the globe lives under the boot of tyranny. What separates freedom from the oppressed? Who draws a thin line separating democracy from tyranny? That sacred boundary is marked and guarded by the solemn footsteps of the American veteran. It is an incontrovertible fact that freedom ends and begins on the thin red line where the American solider fought and died.”
Belton, a veteran, listed his own friends who paid the ultimate price serving their country.
“The men and women sitting here know even more names,” said Belton.
Belton argued that war is necessity to protect the American way of life, freedom and democracy.
“People often say that war never solves anything. Really? War solved slavery. Over half a million Americans died to end that blight,” said Belton. “War stopped the Nazis. Military might halted Communism. Fascism, Communism—these godless ideologies murdered over 100,000 people in the last century alone. Who stopped the communists? Who crushed the Nazis? The American veteran.”
“What these men purchased was peace for the rest of us,” said Belton of all the veterans who died in each of the wars Americans throughout history. Belton stressed how veterans have secured the rights of all Americans.
“We must always remember, we must never forget: It is the veteran, and not the preacher, who gives us the freedom of religion. It is the veteran, not the reporter who gives us the freedom of the press. It’s the veteran, not the poet, who gives us the freedom of speech. It’s the veteran, not the politician, who gives us the right to vote.”
MCHS Aerospace Teacher Major Robert Collins also spoke at Monday’s Veterans Day ceremony.
“Integrity first and service before self and excellence in all we do,” said Collins. “Everyday. in every class, every cadet at Morgan County High School recites those words. But they are more than just words, they are more than words to be recited mechanically, they are more than just words for a few, they are words for us all, they are words to guide our lives. Our veterans, the vast majority, have lived those words and they have succeeded wonderfully in their mission through the years.”
Collins praised veterans for living a life of bravery and sacrifice.
“Because of service to country they have gone where they really would have rather not have gone. they have done what they really would have rather not have done, but for a greater good and a greater cause, and may would say for a great God, service before self. It’s not just a motto, but a life,” said Collins.
“Veterans you have lived that life, consistently, honorably, out of the limelight, in season and out of season. Take encouragement from the events of this day, you are officiated, you are not forgotten,” said Collins.
Jim NeSmith, leader of Post 37 of the American Legion, urged the public to talk with veterans and listen to their experiences.
“Before you leave today, ask one of these veterans to tell you one of their story,” urged NeSmith. “These stories and our memories are powerful and one of the most powerful weapons in securing the future for those who will follow us.”
“To those who came before me, to those I had the privilege to service with and to those who have followed, thank you for your service,” added NeSmith.