South Adams Middle School students honor local veterans
"Respect, respect," were the words calling a silent hush over the audience of energetic middle school students in the South Adams Middle School who had come to remember Veteran's Day on Friday morning.
Several local veterans were lined in front of the students who recited the Pledge of Allegiance and placed their hands on their chest in response to the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner," sung by the South Adams High School choir.
Veterans attending the service included Glen Beavers, John Flueckiger, Cliff Zurcher, Jeff Brown, Dave Henderson, Dean Hall, Don Brandt, Bob Ralston, John Price, Ron Bollenbacher and Les Wagner.
"Today is a very special day," said middle school principal Jeff Rich to students gathered for the service. "This is the day when we honor and salute all who have worn military uniforms with honor and distinction. We are here to honor them and all of the two million vets throughout the United States."
Local commander Les Wagner told students that Veteran's Day is the time to remember how men and women sat aside their own pursuits and offered their lives as a blank check on behalf of the nation.
Robert Bennett, who along with his wife, Kim, live on Rainbow Lake, told students of many of his experiences from the time that he joined the Navy in 1975 to train as an electronic technician until his retirement in 1995.
During his tenure of service, Bennett served on four different ships and three different shore commands. He primarily served in the amphibious warfare and destroyer groups. He also served for four years at a communication station in Rota Spain, three years as a Navy instructor and one year as the Leading Chief Petty Officer of a communications support branch.
"Being in the Navy was a very rewarding career," said Bennett. "It was the most rewarding and fun job that I ever had in my life. It wasn't all fun. I spent a lot of time away from my family, but I did what I had to do. When I retired, I walked out with something â€“ friendships, skills and memories."
Bennett told those present that he traveled all over the Middle East, Africa, South America and the Virgin Islands. He was involved in the first Gulf War in 1983.
"I didn't enjoy that very much," said Bennett.
"I learned a lot of things during my 20 years," continued Bennett. "I learned faith in God, but not just in God, in seeing how faithful people are to each other as a team. I learned to have trust in younger people who are trying their best to do what you trained them to do. I got a lot more out of the Navy than I thought that I would. At first, I joined the Navy to get a job but I got a lot more out of it than that at the end."
Following Bennett's speech, Rich encouraged students to reflect on all service men and women who sacrificed and dedicated their lives on behalf of the United States.
Following the service, several students expressed what impressed them about the day's events.
"We do this in remembrance of soldiers that have helped serve in the various forces," said Jake Hreha. "They've given all that they could to help our country."
Victor Vasquez said that he realizes in a greater way how much those protecting the country are sacrificing every day to do their job.
"They (veterans) are very important people. They served our country to give us the freedom that we enjoy," said Gracie Pollard, also a student.
"The soldiers gave their lives to give us freedom and protect our country," commented Mayia Curtis. "We need to give them a lot of honor and trust. They gave so much so that I could have freedom with my family and friends."
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