The Ralph Greer American Legion Post #49 presented the ceremonial folding of the American Flag.
Rock Port Elementary 5th Grade Chorus
Rock Port High School Chorus.
Senior Dalton Brake welcomes everyone to the Veterans Day assembly.
Thomas Herron was the guest speaker for the RPHS Veterans Day assembly.
An assembly was held at the Rock Port R-II schools on Friday, November 10, 2017, to honor our veterans and recognize Veterans Day.
The assembly began with Senior Dalton Brake welcoming those in attendance followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, the Rock Port High School Choir sang our national anthem, directed by Mrs. Palmer.
American Legion Ralph Greer Post #49 of Rock Port then presented the ceremonial folding of the American flag.
The Rock Port 5th Grade Chorus, directed by Lynn Hunter, sang service songs for the those assembled in the Rock Port gym. After the songs Ally Demott introduced the Veterans Day assembly guest speaker, Thomas Herron. Before the annual moment of silence, Hannah Miller did a special reading. Dalton Brake took this moment to honor all veterans in attendance with a round of applause from those in attendance. The entire assembly stood for “Taps” that was played by Mrs. Palmer and Jared Thomas. The assembly concluded with closing remarks by Dalton Brake.
Thomas Herron was the guest speaker at the Veterans Day assembly at Rock Port R-II School. He spoke about his experiences and presented a slide show. His speech follows:
Today, I want to focus in on four things:
1) Who a veteran is
2) My personal experience.
3) Some statistics
4) What you can do to help.
So who is exactly a veteran? It can be a number of people. It knows no difference between race or gender, age, or region. Simply, a veteran is someone who has served in the Armed Forces at some point in their adult lives. Some will gain the distinction of Veterans of Foreign Wars, while others will not. This does not make one better the other, just rather opportunity. Less than 1% serve in the military across this country. We are one of the few countries where military services is not mandatory nor do we have a draft making our military is 100% volunteer. What is crazy for me is, I grew up thinking of veterans as the WWII guys. The Greatest Generation. That generation is now but all gone. I think there are less than 800,000 WWII vets left. Today, Korea and Vietnam vets are the oldest ones remaining.
Veterans come in all forms. Being a veteran will age people many times beyond their years. When you look veterans pre- and post-deployment, it is unbelieveable the change they will go through.
My experience. Well, I enlisted at the age of 17 with my parents’ permission. I originally was going to go into the Air Force, but one day at school Mrs. Gaines called me into the office and asked if I would meet with the Army recruiter because no one else was going to. I tried to explain to her I had no interest in the Army, but I did it for her! (Because no one ever wanted to let Mrs. Gaines down). All I can say is the rest is history, I ended up joining the Army. This was 2004. I drilled my entire senior year of high school preparing for basic training. After graduation, I attended basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. After that I completed my AIT at Fort Eustis were I learned to work on Apache helicopters. I completed all of this by the winter of 2005. The spring I enrolled at Northwest and was about halfway through the semester when I got a call on warm March day. The voice mail told me I was being activated. Fast forward a few months and I joined more Missouri and Texas soldiers in Texas where we prepared for Iraq. In Iraq I simply worked on helicopters for my year. But I took pride in knowing that my job kept the helicopters ready to help support troops at the front lines. Upon returning to the United States, I enrolled at college where I also joined ROTC. I got my degree in Social Science and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Army. Over the past six years I have served in various roles from a General’s Aide to being a Battalion S2 (the intelligence guy) I currently serve at the 2-130th FA in Hiawatha.
Enough about me. I want to share some statistics with you now. In 2014, 20 veterans died from suicide a day. Six out of the 20 were receiving help from the VA. That same year, 18% of all suicides were veterans. That number is way too high. In context, there are between 18-21 million veterans: 7.1 million from Vietnam, 7.3 from the Gulf War, 5.4 peacetime veterans, 1.7 from Korea and WWI now stands at less than 800,000. Our veterans need our help. Additionally there are between 40,000 – 50,000 homeless vets. In good news this number is declining. About half have access to a shelter. Why are these numbers are high? It involves a few things:
• No support at home (broken family, finances)
• Traumatic injury and no help or support or feeling a sense of forgotten
• Anger from bad leadership, life events etc.
• Loss of purpose.
What can you do to help? Talk to a veteran. Make them feel like they are valued. Many are suffering from severe PTSD or other injuries. Write letters. Nothing beats supplies and letters from home (not email). Support various veterans organizations and even visit them at nursing homes, hospitals or retirement facilities. Additionally, support the families of those deployed. They need as much support and help as the soldiers. Include them. Finally, respect America. Nothing makes a veteran feel more appreciated than respecting this great country. In a day and age with so much politics and agendas, don’t use American symbols or veterans to try and prove a point. I think a line from the Poet Tennyson in his famous Ulysses really articulates how most veterans fill as they age and see today’s world.
‘Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’
The keys being we are all aging and growing old past our time, but we will never yield.
The next video I am going to show is a famous speech by Ronald Reagan, that describes the attitude of many veterans.
Once again, veterans don’t yield. The Great Communicator couldn’t have described it any better. I have one more final short video from the series Band of Brothers. First, this series best captures the essence of the WWII generation and also articulates the bonds form by those who serve together.
I hope I have shared a little of my story, the state of American veterans, and ways you can help. This country is at a crossroads. I implore you to step up and make a difference for it in the right direction. Some of you in here will be part of the 1% that serves, and I will be proud to call you my brother and sisters in arms. Now a quote to end with. This quote is in honor of Mrs. Gaines who guided me to join the branch that was best for me, from a book she gave me at my graduation. Little did she know the places I would go!
“But on you will go,
Though the weather be foul.
On you will go,
Though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
Though the Hakeen-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak…
…You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
Soo…get on your way!