Honoring those who served their country

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Honoring those who serve Nate Travis, JROTC student, offered the flag used in the Veterans Day assembly at Cassville High School, to Rick and Donna Lawson in honor of their son Sam's military service. Sgt. 1st Class Lawson is a two-time bronze star recipient who is currently in his third deployment serving in an undisclosed location. Democrat photo/Kerry Hays

November 11 is just another day off from classes with little regard for the day or what it signifies in many schools throughout the country. For the past 25 years, students at the Cassville Middle School and Cassville High School have taken time out of their regular schedules on this day to honor and commemorate the sacrifices made by military veterans.

"I was telling a student the other day that I read there was a professional athlete who came out of Cassville in the early 1900s," said Myranda Frederickson, office manager at the high school, who has coordinated this event for the past two years. "We don't have celebrities that come from here, but we have got veterans that are legitimate war heroes living in this community."

Originally called Armistice Day, this holiday first came into being to mark the end of World War I -- considered by many at the time to be "the war to end all wars." President Wilson in the original proclamation from 1919 noted that the day should be marked with "solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory." Nov. 11 was selected because that war ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918; 95 years ago. The word "Armistice" was removed in 1954 and replaced with "Veterans" to pay tribute to American Veterans of all wars.

"One thing that Mr. Redman, Cassville High School principal, does a really nice job of in his speech every year is encouraging people to remember that while this is one day that is set aside," said Frederickson, "the decisions and choices that we make every day can be an honor to them as well."

Veterans from the community were invited to attend Monday's assembly, and the Student Council sponsored a reception following the event. Robyn Robbins and Jerrica Russell each read an original essay. The band and the mass choir each added their special gifts to the event as well.

Students in the elementary grades wrote thank you cards that were put out on the tables during the reception and offered to Veterans. Fredrickson was quick to point out that the entire office staff was involved in making this event possible.

This was the first year that the Student Council also sponsored the Shoeboxes For Troops. This program collects personal hygiene items, snacks, playing cards and other necessary items that are placed in a box and sent to troops currently serving in the military. Originally targeted to send 10 boxes, the students were able to send nearly 20.

"Our kids get really excited about this," said Frederickson. "They come and they look at the uniforms, the memorabilia, and the news reports and I think they really understand as much as they can.

Frederickson and her husband, Scott, who serves as the high school's band director, are both veterans and they understand how important this day can be to those who live in the community.

"There are people you go to church with, and there are people you see at the post office that you would never know the things that they have done because they're humble and they're very quiet," said Frederickson. "Oftentimes, they don't like to either re-live the memories or toot their own horn and we like to toot their horn for them."

Honored at Monday's assembly was Sergeant First Class Sam Lawson. Lawson is a 2003 graduate of Cassville High School who is currently serving his third deployment in an undisclosed location. He is a two-time bronze star winner who works in psychological operations. His parents, Rick and Donna Lawson, who both work in the school system, received the flag that was presented by Nate Travis and Logan Boxley, who are members of the Junior Reserved Officers Training Corps.Colonel Chad Stark is currently on active duty and he attended Monday's event. Col. Stark serves as an instructor for the JROTC.

"The appreciation of the veterans and the outpouring of support is phenomenal," said Stark. "You just don't see this everywhere. The Ozarks know how to honor their veterans."

The Sleeth family donated the American flag that was posted by the JROTC earlier in the day. It was first flown on Christmas day in 2007, and it subsequently flew in 25 combat missions over Afghanistan. The flag is displayed in a case for students to see throughout the year, and Veterans Day is the only day this flag is flown.

"As this flag flew, it symbolized the sovereign power of the United States of America, and the unshakeable resolve to keep our country safe," said Redman during his remarks at the ceremony.

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