Kyle Troutman: Small schools do it right

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

On Thursday, we celebrated Veterans Day, honoring and remembering all those who have served or still are serving this great nation in our military.

The day always hits home for me personally. My grandfather, uncle and cousin all instilled a great Navy tradition at our family gatherings, and I have a brother currently serving overseas in the Air Force.

In my youth, going to larger schools in downtown Little Rock, Veterans Day was mentioned, but mostly overlooked in comparison to other major holidays.

Even when I graduated and began working for the newspaper in Searcy, Ark., our coverage was mostly flags being placed and profiles of those who had served.

When I arrived in Barry County seven years ago, my appreciation for Veterans Day grew immensely, and that can all be attributed to the efforts by local high schools to make sure the day goes noticed.

I had never gone to a Veterans Day assembly prior to 2014, but every year since, Nov. 11 is a day I look forward to and hope I am on my A-game behind the camera.

It’s a busy day for the local JROTC out of Scott Tech, sending students to schools across the region to march and present colors. It is also a great day for our local veterans, many of whom attend multiple assemblies throughout the county and are treated to all the lunches and receptions they deserve.

During the ceremonies, most schools play “Armed Forces — The Pride of America,” which goes through the fight song for each branch of the military. That is a personal favorite.

What always strikes me most is the traditional 13 folds of the U.S. Flag, which I never knew about before covering my first assembly. For those who have not had the honor of seeing it, here they are:

1. The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

2. The second fold signifies our belief in eternal life.

3. The third fold is made in honor and tribute of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace.

4. The fourth fold exemplifies our weaker nature as citizens trusting in God; it is to Him we turn for His divine guidance.

5. The fifth fold is an acknowledgement to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

6. The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

7. The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies.

8. The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

9. The ninth fold is an honor to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion that the character of men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

10. The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first-born.

11. The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

12. The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.

13. The last fold, when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

Assemblies also almost always end with honoring the missing in action and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice with the playing of “Taps.”

No matter where I am or how many times I hear it, “Taps” always takes me back to a chilly, windy day in early spring of 2010.

It was that day my grandpa was buried. Multiple bikers were on hand with American Flags at the ceremony, and the bagpipe version of “Taps” was the most beautiful I had ever heard.

Local schools that put on Veterans Day programs get a thumbs up and a solemn tear from me each year. It’s encouraging to see the patriotism and reverence shown for our men and women who serve, and many times, it puts some of our political bickering in perspective.

Keep doing what you do, Barry County schools, because you’re doing it right. I am already excited to hear “Taps” again a year from now.

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of the Cassville Democrat since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-847-2610 or editor@cassville-democrat.com.

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