This week, we are running the two Veterans Day essays that were read during the Cassville High School Veterans Day Assembly. What these two talented young women have written is worth reading. Thank you veterans for all you do and have done to preserve the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of what we believe is still the greatest nation on earth.
by Sarah Miller - CHS Senior
"Shivers crawled up and down my spine like spiders looking for a place to hide. My body perceived the missile lurking behind the dense atmosphere.
"Survival instincts immediately engaged. Saturated earth punctured easily beneath war torn fingers as I struggled to drag myself to safety. The mortar crashed just behind me, and my ears filled with a ring that overwhelmed all else.
"Disoriented, I desperately searched through the smoke to discover my surroundings. As I moved in and out of consciousness, an unknown soldier rushed towards me. He wrapped one arm around my torso and the other under my knees. In one effortless motion the ground fell from beneath my injured body.
"Like a Raggedy Anne doll, I hung limp from his powerful arms as he trudged through the forest. Reaching a clearing, he set me down among two dozen other soldiers and took off back into battle."
This story that my grandpa told me replayed in my head as I looked around at the many faces of decorated veterans at our school assembly. A man in uniform stood to the side of the other seated veterans. He stood motionlessly like a statue in Central Park. As I looked him over, it surprised me to see how weathered his skin appeared. His uniform laid flawlessly over his body without a single misplaced crease. My gaze moved to his eyes. They held a passion that could never be touched. I knew he had seen horrors, but his eyes gave no clue as they took in everything but revealed nothing. Trying to discover what they had seen, I became lost in the eyes of a soldier.
As the assembly concluded, we were released to the commons area. Compelled to talk to this man, I introduced myself and inquired which war he served in. His "Vietnam" response came accompanied with many details that exceeded my comprehension. I kept looking into his eyes; they revealed nothing. Ten conversation-filled minutes passed until he excused himself. The realization that his name still remained unknown prompted me to one last question. His response stopped me dead in my tracks; I knew he could not leave just yet. His name was Pete Roper.
My eyes filled with tears as I became overwhelmed with thankfulness and appreciation for his heroism that saved my grandfather's life. Pride built up inside me as I revealed to him, verbatim, the story my grandpa had told me. Standing side by side, the story poured from my lips without thought. I explained to him the impact Grandpa had on my life and his position of role model and best friend. Held captive by my rushing emotions, we stood motionlessly.
This man changed my life without even knowing it. Finally composed enough to take a breath, I looked into his eyes. What I searched for all day now resided there. His eyes had opened and were letting out everything that they had once tried so hard to keep hidden. Staring speechlessly into them, I saw a soldier with a past he did not like to revisit. Within that past, however, came some good. I could see that everything he endured now felt worth it.
Turning around to watch him walk away, a single inquiry burned in my mind; how many people actually know how veterans intertwine with their story? Dwelling on this question has brought me here. People do not realize how much our war veterans, better yet heroes, unknowingly affect everyday life. Taking the time to discover the sacrifices these men and women have made will result in an unceasing appreciation.
by Jessica Lueckenhoff - CHS Senior
Take one second to consider what life could be like if the men and women in the armed forces were not willing to risk their lives in battle for our freedom. If that thought does not scare you enough, consider living in a country that does not have enough men and women that are willing to go to war. This would cause your name to be put into a draft in which you could be randomly drawn to serve in wartime. We complain about little things on a regular basis, but if we would just stop for a second and think about the much larger problems, we just might realize how lucky we are.
I was born in Oceanside, Calif. I began life living on Marine Corps base, Camp Pendleton. My dad was a Marine assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267. He returned home from a deployment in the Republic of the Philippines when my mom was seven months pregnant. My dad considered himself very blessed to be home for my birth. Many other service members not only missed the birth of their children but many other milestones in their family's lives as well.
Upon my father's discharge, we moved to Missouri. My dad has raised me to always respect military men and women. As I have gotten older, I have realized just how important that respect is.
I fortunately received the opportunity to know Gunny Stephens. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran like my dad, and every year my dad and Gunny call each other on Nov. 10 to say happy Marine Corps birthday. This shows me that even though they both had to make several sacrifices, they are still very proud to have received the chance to serve their country.
I have also received the opportunity to get to know William and James Alberson. Will and James graduated two years ago and decided to enter into the United States Army. When I first found out they had chosen to do this, I did not understand why. I could not figure out what would make someone want to practically sign their life over. However, the more I talked to Will and James, the more I realized that all they wanted was to serve our country and protect our freedom. They know they are very fortunate to get to live the life that they do and are willing to serve in the Army so that others can continue to live a free life.
I am thankful for my dad, Gunny and the Albersons, because without men and women like these, we would not be free to live as we do. Our veterans chose to sacrifice everything so that we would not have to. They risked their lives and went without things we take for granted. While we sit in the comfort of our homes and complain about the world, we need to remember their sacrifices and be more appreciative for all the wonderful things we have. God bless America, and God bless those who choose to serve.