High school stu­dents hear from Huck­riede, Gar­rett at as­sem­bly

Westside Eagle-Observer - - NEWS - SU­SAN HOL­LAND shol­[email protected]

GRAVETTE — Gravette High School stu­dents and guests gath­ered in the per­form­ing arts cen­ter at the school at 9 a.m. Fri­day, Nov. 9, for the an­nual Veter­ans Day ob­ser­vance. Kara Good­win, Key Club pres­i­dent, wel­comed ev­ery­one to the as­sem­bly; and Kade Jarvis, stu­dent coun­cil pres­i­dent, read a pres­i­den­tial procla­ma­tion hon­or­ing veter­ans and their fam­i­lies.

Emily Ni­chols in­tro­duced GHS stu­dents Austin Mat­ney and Sum­mer Simp­kins, who served as the color guard and placed the flags of the United States and the state of Ar­kan­sas on the stage. Ni­chols then led the pledge of al­le­giance to the flag.

Af­ter a mo­ment of si­lence, mem­bers of the GHS foren­sic team gave a reader’s the­ater pro­duc­tion of “The War Prayer,” by Mark Twain, with each stu­dent, in turn, pre­sent­ing a por­tion of the read­ing. Tif­fany Wheeler in­tro­duced Steve Huck­riede, key­note speaker for the pro­gram.

Huck­riede be­gan by ac­knowl­edg­ing that, “War is never good,” but it is some­thing we will al­ways have with us, he said. He said he joined the mil­i­tary be­cause of a long fam­ily his­tory of mil­i­tary ser­vice. His brother Dave was in the ser­vice at the same time he was and served in the same unit in Viet­nam. Broth­ers Mike and Scott also served in the mil­i­tary, and later his daugh­ter Krystal joined the Marines and he said he was proud of her.

Huck­riede went through flight school, with ba­sic he­li­copter train­ing at Min­eral Wells, Texas, and ad­vanced train­ing at Fort Rucker, Ala. He de­scribed his unit as part of the air cavalry. “They just traded horses for he­li­copters,” he said.

He told a lit­tle of his ex­pe­ri­ences, par­tic­u­larly the death of a val­ued unit mem­ber, and said that the sol­diers of­ten made light of things as a means of help­ing dis­pel their fear of them­selves or oth­ers dy­ing.

Huck­riede said he spoke to stu­dents at Glenn Duffy El­e­men­tary School in the past and asked them to find veter­ans and thank them for their ser­vice. He was pleas­antly sur­prised to find how many fol­lowed his in­struc­tions. He asked the high school stu­dents to do the same.

“We can all do some­thing,” he said. “Treat vets with to­tal re­spect. Find one, or 20, and let them know you are very proud of their ser­vice. Love ev­ery minute you’re alive. You never know …,” he said, as his voice ta­pered off in con­clu­sion.

Kyle Pilk­ing­ton in­tro­duced the Gravette High School band; and mem­bers of the band, un­der the di­rec­tion of band in­struc­tor Aaron Ray, played “Armed Forces on Pa­rade,” with veter­ans in the au­di­ence stand­ing as the fight song of their par­tic­u­lar branch of ser­vice was played.

U.S. Army vet­eran Leonard Gar­rett was in­tro­duced and also spoke briefly to the au­di­ence. Gar­rett, a na­tive of Ok­fus­kee County, In­dian Ter­ri­tory, also joined to honor the mem­ory of his fa­ther and a brother who were in the mil­i­tary. He be­came a driver of mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles at Fort Polk, La., “ev­ery­thing from a five-ton truck to a Jeep,” and later at­tended MP school at Fort Gor­don, Ga., jump school at Fort Ben­ning, Ga., and was a food in­spec­tor at Fort Sam Hous­ton, Texas. He served in the mil­i­tary po­lice and was a guard at the fed­eral pen­i­ten­tiary at Fort Leav­en­worth, Kan., af­ter his mil­i­tary ser­vice.

Gar­rett com­mended the stu­dents lis­ten­ing and en­cour­aged them, say­ing, “What­ever you choose to do, do it to the best of your abil­ity.” He told them they were all cham­pi­ons. “Act like a cham­pion and you’ll be a cham­pion,” he con­cluded.

The GHS band played “Taps” to con­clude the pro­gram, and Austin Mat­ney and Sum­mer Simp­kins re­tired the col­ors. Re­fresh­ments were served in the high school com­mons fol­low­ing the pro­gram.

West­side Ea­gle Ob­server/SU­SAN HOL­LAND

United States Navy veter­ans stand as the Gravette High School band plays “An­chors Aweigh,” the march­ing song of the U.S. Navy, dur­ing the school’s Veter­ans Day as­sem­bly Fri­day, Nov. 9. Pic­tured are James Evans (left), James Brooks, Al Blair and Bill Mat­tler, mem­bers of the John E. Tracy Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 25.

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