“On Wednesday, August 8th, 2018, at around 1:46 in the afternoon, I signed my contract, which would be my first step to living out my dream of becoming a United States Marine,” said Brad Trump from the podium at the Pierceton Elementary School Veterans Program Monday morning. Trump, a senior at Whitko’s Jr/Sr High, was chosen as a keynote speaker for the event because he was also a former student at PES.
“Enlisting in the Marine Corps. is probably my proudest moment, so far,” Trump continued to the gymnasium filled with kindergarten through sixth grade students, families from within the community, as well as honored guests from each branch of the military.
A table with a white cloth draped over it, a red rose, a black napkin, and a candle was set as a part of the display which symbolized the soldier who could not attend the convocation, but was remembered. The honor of sharing the significance of this scene went to Mr. Rhode’s 5th grade classroom. The table was set neatly in front of the an American Flag created by the PES students. The flag was made of the the traced hands cut out of construction paper.
At each ceremony school-wide, the schools honored the men and women who Principal John Snyder aptly referred to as giants. In his opening remarks to students in grades seven through twelve, Snyder said, “Today, we come together to honor, giants. Not some mythological creature, but these giants are men and women who are willing to risk everything so that people like you and me may be safe. They’re men and women who believe that this is a great country and that we are a country whose ideals need to be protected. And they know that comes with a cost.”
Snyder went on to share that as a former History teacher, this was a special day indeed as it marked the 100 year anniversary to the end of World War 1, a moment he recalled happened on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918. War had come to an end. In his remarks Snyder shared that the war was gruesome and horrible accounting for the deaths of well over 100,000 men and women killed as new technology was matched against outdated strategies.
At South Whitley Elementary, Veterans stood as their branches of service were called by Corporal John Snepp and the students cheered with applause. This was an important moment, again happening school-wide. Students watched as men and women stood side by side and were honored for their courage and willingness to volunteer to serve their country. And by this example, students witnessed the day’s significance of never forgetting those who have served and those who are no longer with us.
As is there tradition, the entire student body of SWE joined together and sang “You’re a Grand ol Flag." Additionally, special music was provided by Nelson Reed on his bagpipes during the prelude while kindergarten students from Vicki Sprunger and Krista Busz's classes escorted veterans to their seats. Students Bailyey Wright and Jaycie Thomas played taps at both PES and SWE’s ceremonies while the Whitko band and choir performed the “National Anthem.”
To see a full video of the Veterans Day events at Whitko Community Schools, please visit whitko.org and watch "Whitko Weekly" or you may subscribe to their YouTube channel or see it on social media via Facebook or Twitter.