Students waved their flags on Monday as songs of tribute by the B. McDaniel Middle School band and choir filled the gym. The third annual assembly at the school was a continuation of Veterans Days celebrations.
For the few dozen veterans who attended, it was a chance to be honored. For the students who filled the bleachers and the gym floor, it was a chance to honor.
“Because of you we live in the land of the free,” read the cards presented to the veterans and signed by every student and faculty member at B. Mac. “Because of you, we have liberty. Because of you, we are free from tyranny. Because of you, we have democracy. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your dedication to duty, honor and country.”
“We want our students to realize that the freedom we enjoy in this country is not free,” said B. Mac. teacher Jim Russell, who organizes the event. “It has been bought with the price of blood and sacrifice. The American flag, which stands for freedom, would not be flying over our country today were it not for the veterans.”
The veterans were also treated to a breakfast before the assembly and recognized individually during the assembly, with each receiving cheers and applause from the students and teachers.
“These guys and gals right down in front of me are the reason we’re not speaking the queen’s English, French, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese or Arabic,” said Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum, who addressed the assembly as its guest speaker.
Bynum, who is a veteran of the U.S. Army, took students through the history of Veterans Day. The holiday was first observed as Armistice Day, marking the cessation of World War I hostilities. It went into effect on Nov. 11, 1918. In 1954, the holiday for World War I veterans, became a day to honor all veterans.
“I believe that Veterans Day should be one of our nation’s most significant holidays, because it honors those who have given us our freedom,” Bynum said.
Russell said it was with that goal in mind that the school began the assembly.
“We want to pay tribute to a special group of people who are often forgotten or at least under appreciated,” he said. “Most of the veterans from the Vietnam era came home to a divided nation and were looked down upon. Many came home to be reviled and spit upon and called ‘baby killers.’ … We want those men and women to know how much we appreciate their sacrifice and commitment to duty, honor, and country.”
Bynum emphasized that sacrifice as well. “The men and women we honor today have given selflessly, above and beyond the call of duty, time and again, so you and I can remain a part of the greatest nation in the world,” Bynum said.
He urged those at the assembly to strive for understanding of that sacrifice’s depth. “It’s up to us to appreciate, to understand, to care and to carry on this message,” Bynum said.