High school event celebrates military with breakfast
‘One day a year can never be enough to thank you for what you have sacrificed.’ Sarah Myers Hazleton Area High School senior class president
HAZLE TWP. — Veterans and their families attended a breakfast and program held Friday at Hazleton Area High School to thank them for their service to their country, as the nation prepares to observe Veterans Day on Sunday.
Senior class president Sarah Myers welcomed those in attendance and told them it was the students’ honor to serve them as they gathered together for a meal. She also recounted the history of Veterans Day, which began as Armistice Day on Nov 11, 1919, to mark the end of World War I.
Armistice Day became a national holiday in 1938, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day to honor all those living and deceased veterans who served honorably during time of war and peace, Myers said.
“So, it is today that we welcome and thank the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard,” she said. “All who served have made sacrifices to keep our country free. For this, we are grateful.”
Both of Myers’ grandfathers served in the military, as did her father, she said
“There is no greater sacrifice than leaving your family and friends behind for the greater good of the country,” she said. “Some of you left husbands, wives and children, knowing that you may never see them again. Some of you lost friends or loved ones in battle.
“One day a year can never be enough to thank you for what you have sacrificed,” Myers said.
A simple “Thank you for your service” or a hot breakfast is not enough to express their gratitude for what veterans have done, she said.
“From the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate all you have done to keep America the free land that it is today,” Myers said.
U.S. Army Capt. Kathleen Whitley served as the main speaker for the event, in which the high school chorus and band entertained those gathered with songs and musical presentations. They also showed a video created by ninth-graders, in which students defined what a veteran and sacrifice meant to them and thanked veterans for their service.
Whitley, who served in the Army, the reserves, transitioned to civilian life to raise four children and re-enlisted, thanked the students for a wonderful morning honoring those who served.
“Wow, Hazleton Area High School, you know how to do it,” she said. “I’m honored today to have the opportunity to talk to you about Veterans Day. Today, we recognize those who served on active duty, in the National Guard and the reserves forces to keep our nation free. We remember their sacrifices and their devotion to duty and honor and country,”
“Today, we honor the men and women who placed country and service before themselves and demonstrated that courage and soul,” Whitley said.
She expressed awe in speaking to a 94-year-old man who in 1946 served as a yeoman on a destroyer that sunk and he survived, and a Vietnam War veteran who is working toward retirement from a civilian job, using skills he learned while on active duty.
“Today, we stand in the midst of patriots, and family and friends of those who have nobly served,” Whitley said.
She asked all service members and veterans in attendance to stand up and be recognized, and the auditorium erupted into a long, steady round of applause for them.
“Thank you for answering the call to serve,” she said. “You have helped preserve our nation and our Constitution.”
Whitley then asked all loved one could focus on their mission, and that is so critical. Thank you so much.”
Whitley pondered what brings them all together as veterans and researched values of the sister services, coming up with words such as honor, integrity, respect, courage, faithfulness.
“Why does this matter?” she asked. “This matters because it give us insight into what our veterans have been trained in, what was expected and what they upheld. That tells us who they are at their very core. us so much.”
We observe Veterans Day on an anniversary, she said, but not of a great battle or war, but of a great peace, the Armistice that ended World War II.
“It reminds us that this day is designated to remember our debt to all of those who have worn the uniform of the United States of America,” she said. “And your presence here today is a way to say, ‘We remember and we’re grateful.’”
U.S. Army Capt. Kathleen Whitney addresses the audience as the main speaker of a Veterans Day program Friday at Hazleton Area High School in Hazle Twp.
Area service members and veterans stand to be recognized at the Veterans Day program at Hazleton Area High School on Friday in Hazle Twp. Students served hot breakfasts to veterans and active-duty members in attendance.
Members of the Cougar Chorus at Hazleton Area High School sing patriotic songs during the Veterans Day program.
Senior Class President Sarah Myers welcomes the veterans attending the program.
Veteran Raymond J. Adams of Rock Glen, who served with the U.S. Army for 22 years, stands as the Hazleton Area High School band plays “The Armed Forces Medley.”