Alexander Students Honor Veterans

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 "The reason we are here is the men and women sitting in front of us today. These men and women have sacrificed their lives in the past, some are sacrificing now and some will be sacrificing in the future. These soldiers have sacrificed physically, mentally and emotionally. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice — their life — so that everyone in this room can live the American way freely."

Those words from Alexander High School student Meghan Trout during Monday's Veterans Day assembly at the school reminded those in attendance exactly why Veterans Day is celebrated.

In front of the stage set a lone table, with a single empty chair. Tom Smith from AMVETS spoke to the significance of that table and the items arranged on it.

"This table is our way of recognizing those who are missing from our midst. They are commonly called POWs and MIAs. They are unable to be here with us today so we remember them," said Smith.

As is traditional in the POW MIA remembrance ceremony, the table set for one is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner against his oppressors. "The tablecloth is white symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call to arms. The single rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the undying love and faith of the families and loved ones of our comrades-in-arms left behind. The red ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing. A slice of lemon is on the bread plate to remind us of their bitter fate. There is salt upon the bread plate symbolic of the families' tears as they wait. The glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us today. The chair is empty, they are not here. The small American flag represents the unfailing patriotism of our comrades-in-arms and all Americans who wait for their safe return," said Smith.

The names of veterans in attendance and those from Alexander who are currently serving in the armed forces were read to honor each one. As the names were called each veteran in attendance was presented with a red poppy to wear.

Videos were played throughout the assembly depicting scenes of soldiers returning home along with other patriotic scenes.

Veteran Lee Jones served as the guest speaker for the event and spoke of the things he remembered from his time in the military and the things he learned. Jones was assigned to protect the Panama Canal 50 years ago.

One message Jones conveyed to those in attendance was the importance of being able to get along with one another. During his time in Panama, Jones stated that he served with people from various backgrounds. "Just learning to work together is an accomplishment," said Jones.
"The assembly must end, but honoring veterans should not," said Katie McDonald.

"As a man once said, the willingness of America's veterans to sacrifice has earned them our lasting gratitude," said Trout.