On Friday, Cassville High School presented the Flag of the United States of America to Cassville resident Chuck Miner in honor of his father, Lt. Col. William D. Miner, who served in the United States Army and was a prisoner of war during World War II.
William Miner was ordered to active duty in September of 1941. As a commissioned second lieutenant, he was assigned to the Philippine Islands. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he operated as a communications officer behind enemy lines, for which he was awarded the Silver Star. He was also wounded by bomb shrapnel and received the Purple Heart.
After the group of American forces he was with was ordered to surrender on May 17, 1942, William Miner became a prisoner of war. He endured 39 months of captivity, first as slave labor at six different POW camps and then in filthy crowded conditions on six different Japanese ships, including the notorious Oryoku Maru.
Three of the ships that William Miner was held on were torpedoed and sank by Allied forces. Each time, he was forced to swim to the nearest island only to be recaptured.
William Miner was finally rescued by Russian forces while at the Hooten POW Camp in Mukden, Manchuria on Aug. 18, 1945. He received a promotion to lieutenant colonel upon his return to the United States.
The Miner family has donated a copy of "In the Shadow of the Rising Star: A Diary of an American POW in WWII" to Cassville High School. The book shares the diary entries William Miner wrote while in captivity at the risk of torture and death. Some of the entries were even scribbled on small pieces of Japanese toilet paper.
"Every year, we dedicate this time to honor one veteran who has distinguished him or herself," said Chris Redmon, CHS principal. "This year, we would like to honor Lt. Col. William D. Miner with this American flag for his service to his country and community."
Scott Regional Technology Center JROTC members Dillon Horlacher and Levi Sisco performed the 13 fold ceremony with the assistance of student narrators Mike Martin, Lacy Procino and Brett Stewart before the Flag was presented to Chuck Miner. The Flag was donated by American Legion Post #118.
In addition to honoring Miner, the assembly was designed to honor all area veterans. Each veteran in attendance received a certificate of appreciation from the district. Redmon read the names and service information of each veteran present, and CHS Student Council members handed out the honorary certificates.
The special assembly also offered performances by the high school choir and band. Choir members sang "Why Have the Fallen Gone?" and assisted the band in a performance of "Armed Forces -- The Pride of America." The band also performed "The Star Spangled Banner."
Student essays were read by Ali Hanson and Wil LeCompte, and Scott Frederickson, high school band teacher, performed "Taps" at the close of the assembly.
A moment of silence was held in rememberance of those missing in action and believed to be prisoners of war.
"Those who have served and those currently serving the USA are ever reminded that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice," said Redmon. "The single empty chair in front of us today symbolizes that there are members of our armed forces who are not here with us today. They are unable to be with their loved ones so let us join together to pay our humble tribute to them and bear witness to their absence.
"We are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy our daily pleasures there are others who have endured and still may be enduring the agony of pain and deprivation. Let us pause to recognize our POWs and those labeled as MIAs. Let us remember. Let us not forget."
Near the end of the event, Danny Schell presented Redmon with a framed Flag of the United States of America that was flown over Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Sept. 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
At the close of the assembly, Redmon read the following quote by S.G. Tallentyre: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
"This is a reminder that while we are enjoying and even taking for granted the wonderful blessing, let us remember those not present with us today, either because they have paid the ultimate sacrifice or have chosen to currently support and defend what they believe is the greatest nation on earth," said Redmon. "Let us remember. Let us not forget.
"For all of you veterans, thank you for the courage and patriotism you have shown in keeping our country safe and protecting our freedoms," said Redmon. "I would like to challenge each and everyone of us to be a patriot for our country."
Redmon also acknowledged the Flag of the United States of America, which is flown at the high school. The Flag was donated by the Sleeth Family and was flown on 25 combat missions in Afghanistan.
"As this flag flew, it symbolized the sovereign power of the United States of America and the unshakable resolve to keep our country safe."
White Funeral Home, Smith's Clothing, Tomblin's Jewelry and Gifts and the Cassville First Baptist Church served as sponsors for this year's Veterans Day ceremony and reception, which was held after the assembly.
JROTC members Christina Erganian, Mikka Sturgell, Horlacher and Sisco presented the colors and assisted CHS FFA members in welcoming and seating veterans who attended the event.