Friday marked the 45th consecutive year Carroll County Middle School has held a Veterans Day assembly, but this year’s ceremony may have been one of the most touching.
Toward the end of the 90-minute program, CCMS students displayed an incredible amount of gratitude and respect to the veterans in attendance. After keynote speaker Lt. Col. James H. Scott’s speech, veterans in attendance were asked to stand when the war or conflict they served in was announced. What followed was, quite simply, awesome to watch.
When World War II was called, the WWII veterans there were given an emotional standing ovation that lasted a full 40 seconds. As each additional conflict was announced and veterans stood, the outpouring of respect and admiration continued. Korean War vets received a 20-second standing ovation. Vietnam War vets in attendance were applauded for 30 seconds. And it went on that way for each conflict announced on through Iraq and Afghanistan. In total, veterans were given a standing ovation of more than three full minutes.
Grover King VFW Post 1115 member Donald Trausneck called it maybe the best Veterans Day assembly he has ever attended. He was so moved by the ceremony, he asked CCMS Principal Marc Quesenberry for a moment to communicate his appreciation.
“I would like to thank Mr. Quesenberry, the faculty and staff, and all of you wonderful students for this wonderful program you gave us today,” Trausneck said. “Thank you very much.”
The assembly included the Carroll County High School Band playing “Land of Liberty” and the national anthem, presentation of colors and posting of colors by the CCHS JROTC Color Guard, and the singing of “Land of the Free” by the CCMS Chorus. Morgan Roberts and Josie Quesenberry, winners of the Patriots’ Pen and Voice of Democracy essay contests by the VFW, also presented their essays to the audience. The CCMS Band then performed “Patriotic Bits and Pieces,” before the keynote speaker, Scott, was introduced.
Scott, Commander of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, served tours of duty in Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a result of his service, he was awarded the Afghan Campaign Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal with three bronze stars.
“I am humbled and grateful to be here this morning to honor the brave men and women of all walks of life who have stepped forward to defend our nation throughout our history. Before I continue, I would like to invite our veterans and current members of service to please stand and be recognized,” Scott said, preceding another huge applause for veterans in attendance. “Thank you for your service.”
Scott said Veterans Day is a celebration for all those who have served and continue to serve our nation with honor and distinction. Each year we set aside this day across the country to celebrate and pay tribute to American veterans for their devotion, patriotism, selfless service and sacrifice on behalf of us all.
“It is their loyalty to our country and their great courage that have made us what we are today – the land of the free, the home of the brave and a beacon of hope for an increasingly complex world,” Scott said. “We say thank you, not only to them, but also to their families who have served and sacrificed for our nation.”
Scott said it was the greatest generation that fought in World War II to give us the honor and privileges we have today. He then told of a World War II veteran he met that morning and addressed others there Friday.
“Thank you for being the greatest generation and giving us everything we have today,” Scott said, garnering another loud ovation from the crowd. “Also present today I had the honor and privilege of meeting men that served during the Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, Persian Gulf War, ongoing campaigns in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and other countries around the globe. We welcome all of you and thank you for your service.”
Regardless of the military branch our veterans have served, this day belongs to all of them, Scott said, calling them a vast generation of patriots and warriors. From the Minutemen who won our independence to the warriors continuing to fight aggression around the world, Scott said the generations of patriots who dedicated themselves in defense of our country make us stronger and more resilient as a nation.
“Each of these warriors are part of a proud legacy and they have served with honor and dignity. They have served in different places and in different ways, but they have served,” Scott said. “They have not only fought our wars, they have preserved our peace, whether in faraway lands or here at home. They have lived uncommon lives under a common banner of love of country and service of this nation. Therefore, it is fitting that we pause as a nation and recognize their service and sacrifice and that is what we do here today.”
Later in the assembly, students and faculty were asked to pause for a moment of silence and the playing of Taps (performed by Autumn Gravley) to honor the 1.2 million American soldiers that gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
To conclude the assembly, CCHS JROTC Cadet Lt. Col. Dylon Leonard said he realizes there is nothing we can do to thank our veterans enough for all that they have done.
“One thing we can do is to appreciate and exercise the rights and freedoms we enjoy today that they fought and died for. We also need to fulfill our responsibilities to these same freedoms,” Leonard said. “Finally, we all need to take every opportunity to thank our veterans whenever we have the chance. For our part, we will remember your service, this day and every day. Thank you for everything you have done for all of us.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN