A record number of area veterans were honored during Cassville High School's 20th annual Veterans Day Assembly on Tuesday.
The celebratory event was a chance for students to recognize the sacrifice made by those who served in the United States Armed Forces and an opportunity for the younger generation to learn valuable lessons from some of America's true heroes.
Kevin Miller, a CHS teacher and veteran, addressed the students directly during the assembly. He spoke about patience and the need for young people and veterans alike to take the time to understand each other better.
Miller described the frustration he sometimes feels when he encounters students who complain about saying the Pledge of Allegiance or who balk at the idea of writing a Veterans Day essay.
"To truly understand you would have had to experience the reality I did," said Miller. "You weren't there when I was handing the folded flag to the widow of one of my soldiers. You weren't there when I carried a soldier's personal property to another young widow who was holding her four-month-old daughter and sobbing all the while.
"As we grow older we gain an appreciation for service to others," added Miller. "Veterans be patient with these students, and students be patient with us and understand our frustration with those who seem to take for granted what we did for them."
Following Miller's short speech, CHS Principal Brad Hanson called out the names of each veteran in attendance, who were presented with a certificate of appreciation as well as the enthusiastic applause of the entire student body.
Hanson also spoke of the Flag of the United States of America that was flying outside the high school as the veterans entered the building. The flag was donated to CHS by the Sleeth family. Hanson said the flag first flew on Dec. 25, 2007, and over the last 11 months, has flown on 25 combat missions over Afghanistan.
"As the flag flew, it symbolized the sovereign power of the USA and the unshakable resolve to keep our country safe," said Hanson. "We intend to fly this flag proudly on special occasions throughout the school year."
Hanson also acknowledged all those involved in setting up the Veterans Day display that welcomed guests as they walked into the school gymnasium for the assembly.
In particular, Hanson recognized the support of Abby Hardin and her work with the TLC Military Support Group, which has sent over 1,500 packages to active service personnel overseas. The mention of Hardin and her project brought the crowd to its feet for a standing ovation.
This year's Veterans Day Assembly also included the reading of Veterans Day essays by three CHS students, including senior Jacob Roller, junior Mathew Angel an senior Kate Frana. Their essays appear on page 13 of this week's Cassville Democrat.
A special presentation was given by Donna Gracy, an Air Force veteran and CHS substitute teacher, who provided the audience with a description of the POW/MIA flag.
Gracy ended her speech by presenting Retired Staff Sgt. Richard "Sarge" Carney with a folded and framed POW flag signed by Newt Heisley, a World War II pilot who was responsible for the flag's design.
Carney is known throughout the Cassville community for his dedication to educating local citizens about flag etiquette. He has also worked hard to make sure local businesses and government agencies fly the POW/MIA flag.
Carney said he accepted the gift on behalf of Cassville POW Rocky Edmondson.