Veterans Day Eureka Springs High School pays tribute to vets
Eureka Springs High School held a special assembly Monday, Nov. 12, to honor the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day and recognize local veterans for their service.
Principal David Gilmore welcomed local veterans, saying he hoped students would honor veterans and understand the sacrifice veterans have made for the country.
“I know we have a few young men and women out there in the crowd that are planning to join the Army or the armed forces after graduation,” Gilmore said. “I want you to know I deeply respect that. That’s an honorable thing to serve our county.”
You can’t truly understand what veterans have experienced, Gilmore said, unless you’ve experienced it yourself. While he’s not a veteran, Gilmore said he’s proud of his family members who have served.
“Can you imagine going to a foreign land to fight others on their turf? It must be terrifying,” Gilmore said. “Can you imagine if you were a husband or a wife raising children while your spouse was off serving on their own? It’s tough.”
Gilmore remembered the terrorist attacks on 9/11, saying they brought the country together and made him more patriotic.
“I proudly stand for the nation’s flag and The Star Spangled Banner,” Gilmore said.
Young people can honor veterans, Gilmore said, by living life to the fullest.
“Get an education. Vote,” Gilmore said. “They are not protecting the country so you can just blow off your life and be a drain on society. Honor your veterans by showing them respect and living your life to the fullest.”
The assembly continued, with performances from the high school band and high school and middle school choirs. The students then heard from special speaker Col. Wylie Nolen, who served in the Air Force during World War II. Nolen said he was honored to be at the assembly.
“What a really, really wonderful way to welcome the veterans,” Nolen said.
Nolen encouraged the students to consider joining the military.
“It’s an excellent way to get started, and it’s a very rewarding way of life,” Nolen said. “I think you could be very proud of yourself if that’s where you choose to go.”
Nolen described the history of Veterans Day, saying the first Veterans Day commemoration was held in Birmingham, Ala., in 1947.
“Veterans Day is for all veterans, whether they made it through the war or not,” Nolen said. “Alive or dead, it’s for all us veterans out there.”
In the military, Nolen said, the goal is to leave no one behind. Nolen remembered when a fighter pilot was shot down over North Vietnam. The helicopter sent to rescue the fighter pilot was also shot down, Nolen said, so the military sent a second helicopter.
“That was shot down, too. I don’t know how much effort they made to pick up that one man,” Nolen said, “but I’ll tell you it’s good to know that if your luck runs out, Uncle Sam is going to try to get you back again. It’s not always possible, but the effort will be made.”
Eureka Springs does a good job honoring veterans, Nolen said. He described the Battle Cross, a memorial to those who never made it home. In the cross, Nolen said, the helmet and dog tags represent the veteran who has died. The rifle and the bayonet represent a time for prayer, he said, and the boots signify that the veteran has made his last hike into his final battle. Another tradition, Nolen said, is the performance of Taps at military funerals.
“If that doesn’t make you cry, you need to go to a doctor, because there’s something wrong with you,” Nolen said. “Taps makes me cry every time.”
Nolen asked students to show respect to veterans.
“They gave away their tomorrow so you can have today,” Nolen said. “And military veterans aren’t the only people who have given their lives for you. I’d encourage you to give the same respect to our law enforcement people, to our firefighters and to our first responders.”
The assembly was followed by a lunch for veterans provided by FFA, Rotary Interact, Harts Family Center, Matthew Eckman’s class and the cafeteria staff.