Edison High School staff and students heralded those brave souls who served our country in observance of Veterans Day.
The 33rd annual assembly was held on Nov. 11 featuring members of the Richmond VFW Post 740. Organizer Paul Baker, a history teacher at EHS, introduced the program that included patriotic readings, music, and comments from the veterans themselves in a time of remembrance and reflection. Baker described the beginnings of the holiday, which took place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 following “the war to end all wars”—World War I. What started as Armistice Day would become Veterans Day in 1942, and since then members of all branches of the military have been recognized for their strength in courage in heeding the call of the Armed Forces.
“This observance began to honor all veterans, not just those from World War I,” he added, saying the man who spearheaded the holiday, Raymond Weeks, was later recognized himself with a medal from President Ronald Reagan in 1982.
The Wildcat Marching Band presented the National Anthem and Military Salute under the direction of Marc Sansone while Vocal Music Director Greg Hofmeister led the junior high and high school choir members in performances of “All The Way Home,” “The Impossible Dream” and “Song for the Unsung Heroes.” Readings included “In Flanders Field,” by teacher Ellen Swickard, “Freedom is Not Free,” by teacher David Schultz and “The Wall,” by retired teacher Tony Kovalesky, who originated the school’s Veterans Day program more than three decades ago.
“I think it’s an honor to be here today to honor these true American heroes,” Kovalesky said. “We take days like Veterans Day to thank the men and women who served in the Armed Forces and for the sacrifices they made for the freedom we have today.”
He also spoke of his father, a WWII veteran who received a very special note of thanks for his bravery from none other than President Harry S. Truman.
“To you who answered the call and served in its Armed Forces to bring about the total defeat of the enemy, I extend my heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation,” the letter stated. “As one of the nation’s finest, you took on the severe task one could be called upon to perform. Because you demonstrated the fortitude, resourcefulness and calm judgment necessary to carry out that task, we now look to you for leadership and example in further exalting our country in peace.”
Veterans were also given an opportunity to comment on the day, with some playfully telling the students their military branch was the best to join.
Robert Woodward, who served in the U.S. Air Force for four years, said, “If anyone wants a good career, the Air Force is the one to go into.”
“There are some great opportunities,” added U.S. Army veteran Chris Van Dyke. “If you don’t know what you want to do, you get a free education, travel the world and see a lot of things, get some discipline and learn a lot.”
“It’s been said that a veteran writes a blank check for the federal government up to the price of their lives,” said Army veteran J.O. Henry. “This is true, but you are also a member of a team.”
“What Veterans Day means to me is the application of the highest ideals America was founded on,” commented Sgt. James Bonestell, a recruiter for the U.S. Marine Corps. “What made me pursue service…was how [I was] going to be better for it in the long run.”
Baker also recognized teacher Chuck Cline and custodian Angel Nave, who respectively served in the National Guard and Navy, and introduced a new generation of soldiers as he called EHS seniors Nicole Zullo and Isabella Rodriguez to the floor. He announced that they respectively would join the Army and Marines upon graduation this spring and the seniors received a standing ovation from the veterans and audience. Principal Matt Morrison thanked everyone for attending and said he was proud of the school and the students’ show of support on this auspicious day. He also thanked the veterans for their service and continued support of the school community.
“They are at every football game raising the flag. They do wonderful things. They come home and support baseball, and they have donated thousands of dollars [to programs]. They love to serve the people of the United States,” Morrison concluded. “Every day I’m so proud to be your principal, and I’m so proud to be your principal on a day like this.”
The event closed with a rendition of Taps by local Eagle Scouts and band members Gage Cable and Ryan Dinger.