Stu­dents honor veter­ans

■ 100th an­niver­sary of Ar­mistice Day ob­served at high school.

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Janelle Jessen Staff Writer [email protected]

Veter­ans and high school stu­dents came to­gether on Mon­day to ob­serve the 100th an­niver­sary of Ar­mistice Day — the end of World War I — with a com­mu­nity Veter­ans Day pro­gram.

Veter­ans of For­eign Wars Levi Douthit Post 1674 part­nered with Siloam Springs High School to host the pro­gram, which was held at 11 a.m. in the Pan­ther Ac­tiv­ity Cen­ter. Mas­ter Sergeant Michael But­ler was the key­note speaker and the high school choir and band pro­vided mu­sic for the pro­gram.

But­ler ex­plained that Veter­ans Day be­gan as Ar­mistice Day, which marked the end of World War I — orig­i­nally known as the Great War or the war to end all wars — on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The Al­lied pow­ers signed a cease­fire agree­ment with Ger­many at Rethon­des, France, at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, ac­cord­ing to the Li­brary of Con­gress web­site, Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son pro­claimed the first Ar­mistice Day the fol­low­ing year, on Nov. 11, 1919. The cel­e­bra­tion orig­i­nally in­cluded pa­rades, pub­lic meet­ings and a two-minute sus­pen­sion of busi­ness at 11 a.m.

Ar­mistice Day con­tin­ued to be ob­served be­tween the world wars by the United States, Great Bri­tain and France, the web­site states. Af­ter World War II, the hol­i­day was used to pay trib­ute to veter­ans of both wars. In 1954, the U.S. des­ig­nated Nov. 11 as Veter­ans Day to honor veter­ans of all U.S. wars, while British Com­mon­wealth coun­tries now call the hol­i­day Re­mem­brance Day, it states.

Un­like Me­mo­rial Day, which honors those who have fallen, and In­de­pen­dence Day, which honors free­dom, Veter­ans Day honors the ser­vice of all veter­ans, But­ler said.

“To­day we honor the con­tri­bu­tions and sac­ri­fices of the over 22 mil­lion liv­ing veter­ans who have served this coun­try in the name of lib­erty and jus­tice,” he said. “From the jun­gles of Viet­nam to the moun­tains of Afghanistan, from Pork Chop Hill (a bat­tle of the Korean War) to the Per­sian Gulf and so many other far off

and for­got­ten places our veter­ans have born the cost of Amer­ica’s wars and con­tinue to keep watch over Amer­ica’s peace. To­day is our day to stand a lit­tle bit taller, and to be rec­og­nized by a grate­ful na­tion and to ap­pre­ci­ate what the few, the very few, have done for the many.”

But­ler served in the Army for more than 21 years, start­ing his ca­reer in field ar­tillery be­fore tran­si­tion­ing to the med­i­cal field, where he served first as a com­bat medic and then as prac­ti­cal nurse. Dur­ing his ca­reer he earned nu­mer­ous awards in­clud­ing Le­gion of Merit, Bronze Star and Or­der of Mil­i­tary Med­i­cal Merit.

Af­ter re­tir­ing from the mil­i­tary, But­ler spent 20 years work­ing in or­gan trans­plan­ta­tion, fin­ish­ing as the se­nior clin­i­cal co­or­di­na­tor and ad­min­is­tra­toron-call for the Texas Or­gan Shar­ing Al­liance in San An­to­nio. But­ler and his wife, Teri, moved to Siloam Springs in 2013 and he cur­rently works as a sub­sti­tute nurse and teacher for the Siloam Springs School Dis­trict, a vol­un­teer for the Cir­cle of Life Hospice and quar­ter­mas­ter for Veter­ans of For­eign Wars Post 1674.

“In times of dan­ger and in times of peace, it is the self­less ded­i­ca­tion of Amer­ica’s veter­ans that con­tin­ues to se­cure the free­doms on which our great coun­try was founded,” But­ler said. “Ev­ery gen­er­a­tion owes a debt of grat­i­tude to these pa­trons of the past and of the present, those who set aside per­sonal goals to an­swer our great call.”

Col­lec­tively, the con­tri­bu­tions of Amer­i­can veter­ans have res­onated through­out the world, ac­cord­ing to But­ler.

“Around the world, veter­ans have bro­ken the shack­les of tyranny, un­leashed the chains of bondage, es­tab­lished democ­ra­cies and lib­er­ated en­tire na­tions from op­pres­sion,” he said. “Veter­ans have lifted the cloak of dark­ness, op­pres­sion, des­per­a­tion and re­placed it with an in­ex­tin­guish­able light that’s the very stem of free­dom and lib­erty.”

But­ler en­cour­aged stu­dents to of­fer sup­port and ad­vo­cate on be­half of veter­ans and their fam­i­lies, while keep­ing in mind that their sac­ri­fice al­lows ci­ti­zens to live freely.

“There is no na­tion on earth greater than the United States of Amer­ica and we owe a debt far greater than we can re­pay to gen­er­a­tions that came be­fore us and for those who will come af­ter us,” But­ler said. “I want to thank all of my fel­low veter­ans to­day for your ser­vice. I thank each of you for join­ing us here to­day and I es­pe­cially want to thank those sit­ting in the stu­dent body who may one day fol­low this old sol­dier’s foot­steps in the hon­ored and proud tra­di­tion. Should you choose to do so, I salute you, your path will not be easy but it will be one you will never for­get.”

Dur­ing the pro­gram, a video about the poem, “In Flan­ders Fields,” by Lt. Col. John McCrea was shown and Frank Lee, com­man­der of VFW Post 1674, ex­plained the Buddy Poppy tra­di­tion to stu­dents.

“The Veter­ans of For­eign Wars ini­tially sold the Buddy Pop­pies in re­mem­brance of our bud­dies who didn’t come home,” he said. “To­day as we leave, we have a Buddy Poppy for each of you. Wear it proudly in honor of some­one who has given sac­ri­fice so that we may live in a free na­tion and a free coun­try.”

Janelle Jessen/Her­ald-Leader

Stu­dents shook hands with VFW Post 1674 mem­ber Ben­nie Gal­lant, right, and Ron Evans, cen­ter, af­ter the com­mu­nity Veter­ans Day pro­gram at the Siloam Springs High School on Mon­day. Stu­dents were in­vited down to greet veter­ans af­ter the pro­gram and many crowded around to give veter­ans hugs and hand­shakes.

Janelle Jessen/Her­ald-Leader

Stu­dent Nicole Bossler hugged Ce­cil Ni­chols, VFW Post 1674 mem­ber and high school so­cial stud­ies teacher, af­ter the Veter­ans Day pro­gram at the Siloam Springs High School on Mon­day. Stu­dents were en­cour­aged to greet the veter­ans af­ter the pro­gram.

Janelle Jessen/Her­ald-Leader

Mas­ter Sergeant Michael But­ler was the key­note speaker at the com­mu­nity Veter­ans Day pro­gram at Siloam Springs High School on Mon­day. The pro­gram, hosted by VFW Post 1674, fo­cused on the 100th an­niver­sary of Ar­mistice.

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