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Students, veterans honor members of Americas military
ARLINGTON Local students joined area veterans in honoring the sacrifices of all the men and women of Americas armed forces, in time for the day of the year that this nation sets aside to remember its military members.
Veterans Day is Nov. 11, but in some ways, Nov. 9 was a busier day for commemorating veterans in Arlington, since six of the eight Veterans Day assemblies held by Arlington-area schools took place that day.
While Pioneer Elementary prepared a display case honoring Americas military Nov. 6, and Masters Touch Christian School invited the community to their assembly Nov. 8, to recognize those who have serviced in the nations armed forces, Weston High School received a Nov. 9 visit from Jim Barron and Mary Fike, of Arlington American Legion Post 76.
Barron, a veteran of the Korean War, offered the Weston students an exhaustive history lesson on the evolution of Veterans Day, dating back to its origins as Armistice Day, which marked the anniversary of the official conclusion of World War I. Fike, a veteran of the first Iraq War, sought to connect the students to the experiences of veterans on a personal level.
How many of you have a friend or family member who are servicing overseas right now? Fike asked. After receiving a show of hands, she then asked, How many of them are involved in this current conflict? Another show of hands prompted her to remind the students, Dont forget that theyre in danger, and that theyre the reason we enjoy the freedoms that we have today.
Visitors to Arlington High Schools Veterans Day assembly Nov. 9 were met with a flag-folding ceremony, conducted by AHS Air Force Junior ROTC, before Marysvilles Staff Sgt. Gilbert Hose began his speech by noting that, except in parades  the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You cant tell a vet just by looking. Hose, who has been deployed to Haiti and Bosnia, then cited everyday examples of veterans in society, from police officers and nurses to POWs and MIAs, each of whom has offered some of his lifes most vital years in the service of his country, and sacrificed his ambitions so that others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
The students of AHS followed Hoses remarks by shining the spotlight on the veterans in their schools staff, including Air Force veterans Mike Addington, Mike Blue, Alvin Moore and Mike Simpers, Army veterans Dennis Cox, Todd Freeman and Brett Sarver, and Navy veterans Chris Davison, Mike Gudgeon and Mike Shierk.
Post Middle Schools leadership class emphasized the significance of poppies during their Nov. 9 Veterans Day assembly, explaining that poppy seeds tend to lay dormant in areas populated by other plants, until the soil has been churned and cleared, so after World War I, in the battlefields, where the ground was shelled and torn and barren, where the blood of thousands softened the soil, fields and fields of poppies bloomed, deep red in the sunrise.
After the students of the leadership class buttoned red roses to the lapels of American Legion members in attendance, for them to wear during the Veterans Day parade, the students looked back on all the battles that have ensued since World War I, from World War II and Korea to Afghanistan and Iraq, observing that, sadly, it wasnt the war to end all wars. Their presentation concluded by asking the audience what they owed veterans, and answering that, At the very, very least, we owe them our respect, tomorrow and today and everyday.
While the students of Kent Prairie Elementary prepared a wall of honor, with stars representing each family member or friend who is a veteran, for their Veterans Day assembly Nov. 9, the students of Presidents Elementary presented a slideshow that same day, showcasing the veterans and active-duty military members known to their community. The Presidents Elementary students paid further tribute to Americas military by performing the songs of each branch of service, including the Air Forces Off We Go, the Armys Caisson Song, the Coast Guards Semper Paratus, the Marines Marine Hymn, and the Navys Anchors Aweigh.
Eagle Creek Elementary concluded the Veterans Day assemblies for Nov. 9, as Cecelia Mikotas second-grade students showed off copies of the letters theyd written to patients in the Veterans Health Administration.
After the 11 a.m. Veterans Day parade in downtown Arlington Nov. 11, Arlington American Legion Post 76 invited veterans and other community members to take part in their traditional dinner, during which Post Commander Virgil Wallace honored World War II veterans Howard Peterson and Chet Thompson of the Army, Keith Sarkiston of the Army Air Corps, and Past Commander Gil Russell of the Navy, before presenting a flag to Aloa McKenzie, in honor of World War II veteran Vernice Hall.
Please, tell your stories, even if theyre one of hurt, Wallace said to the assembled veterans. Whether you think they matter or not, you still served. A lot of us dont consider ourselves heroes. Well say, My friend whos not here, hes the hero. And they are, but so are you. It doesnt matter if you served during peacetime or wartime, because we all served, because all love our country.