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I’ve now lived through 51 Veteran’s Days as a veteran. Most have been just another day, some with a free meal, one Veteran’s Day I got fired from a job, another I got ridiculed by my boss for wanting to take Veteran’s Day off. Today was the best I can remember.
Two of my grandchildren are students at Boyd High School in Boyd, Texas. Boyd High School’s FCCLA organization invited veterans in the community, especially those who have relatives in the school, to a breakfast at the school. When my grandson Josh invited me via a text message I decided to go.
We were served breakfast in the school library. Somewhere I heard the number 29 veterans in attendance. Most were accompanied by family members. I sat at a table with a 95 year old veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He seemed in better health than me and was sharp and clear of mind. The other two veterans at my table had not served during war time, but had been stationed in Europe at various times. One was an air traffic controller who had worked LA (Lower Alabama) where I went to flight school.
The school librarian welcomed us and said we’d have a prayer before eating. When she asked for a volunteer to pray, the Superintendent of Schools responded and prayed like she knew the one she was praying to on a personal level. Imagine — prayer in school! We were served a breakfast of pancakes and sausage with coffee and plates of cinnamon rolls. But breakfast wasn’t it, folks. We were next escorted down a hall with full height posters on the wall. Our destination was the gymnasium.
As we entered the gym, the entire student body of approximately 400 students was seated in the stands and began applauding as the veterans entered. They kept up the applause and shouts of “Thank You!” until all of the veterans and their families had entered the gym and taken seats in the folding chairs that were set out on the floor. A ceremony followed in which the school band played the national anthem, then a parade of students entered in groups of two, with each group holding a banner for a branch of service. As the groups walked in one at a time, the theme song for the branch of service represented by the banner they held played over the speaker system.
Several individuals gave short speeches. One of them was a teacher who is an Air Force Veteran, another was a graduate of the school who was a veteran and six were students who had written short essays. While in the library, we each had been given a booklet of essays and poems written by students at the high school in honor of veterans. These speeches were additional essays by the students.
The ceremony was quite moving, but that wasn’t all. I’m overcome with emotion as I write this, just remembering. As we left the school we were told the students from the other Boyd Schools — kindergarten, elementary, intermediate and middle school — all wanted to show their appreciation to us as well. We were directed into a parade of 20 or so cars, led by a two police cars with flashing lights. As we drove down Knox Street in Boyd, students from the Kindergarten waved at us from behind their fence, but students from the intermediate and middle school were lined up on both sides of the street, holding patriotic artwork they had done, waving to us and calling out (“Thank you!”) as we drove by. We continued to follow the police cars across one of the main drags, into and through the parking lot of the elementary school where all of the students from that school were lined up, holding up their artwork and calling out to us, “Thank You!” as they waved. The entire parade consisted of smiles, waves and cheers from the students.
Thank you, Boyd High School and all the other Boyd Schools for honoring your veterans in a way that most of us will never foget.