Meadowview Middle School’s annual Veterans Day Celebration was centered on recognition from younger generations for veterans laying the groundwork for the present and future with their service and sacrifice.
“Students, we want to thank you for your work for Veterans Day essays,” said Assistant Principal Heather Horton to students, staff, veterans and their families and notables including Senator Shirley Randleman, who attended the morning celebration. She also thanked parents for their constant support of the school and for teachers setting an example of what it is to serve their communities.
North Surry High School Air Force Junior Officers Training Corps (JROTC) cadets performed the opening presentation of colors for the event and the Meadowview eighth-grade chorus performed “The Star Spangled Banner.” The Meadowview Middle School chorus sang “God Bless the U.S.A” later in the ceremony.
Students who were selected to read their essays were sixth-grader Hettie Freed, seventh-grader Hope Gentry, Nick Conzone from the eighth grade, and student Geoffrey Williams thanked veterans in the fourth presentation of the morning.
Freed talked about Marine veteran and Marine Corps League Commandant Todd Abbott. She told the audience about his service in Vietnam and how he lost a hand when a landmine blew up. She said Abbott told her in an interview the best thing about being a Marine was the fellowship and camaraderie and the worst thing was not knowing (in battle) if you would live another day. Freed said she thought what Abbott did was “amazing.”
Gentry also thanked the vets for their service and read a poem using the words veteran and victory to explain concepts like victory, trust, teamwork, overcoming enemies, enduring pain, and respect and never giving up. She likened them to saviors sent to protect citizens and the country.
Conzone’s presentation talked about how veterans carried signs of service on the outside and the inside. He noted how they had sacrificed for everyone and that it was not always easy to tell a veteran just by looks. He talked about how vets are visible in their many civilian professions and that some vets are also among those destitute and “sleeping under bridges.”
“Lean over and say thank you when you see someone who served our country,” said Conzone. “These two words mean more than any medals to them.”
Williams closed the student presentations by thanking veterans for service and sacrifice and left the podium smiling broadly for the servicemen and women.
The speaker for the event, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Adams was introduced by his big sister, Ashley McCormack. Adams is an alumnus of North Surry High School.
“Introducing our speaker is an honor for me and not just because he is my brother,” said McCormack. “Growing up he was my best friend. He signed up for the Army after graduating and scared me and my family to death. He has served a tour in Iraq and has earned many commendations and medals. I couldn’t be prouder of my little brother.”
Adams told the group he suffered from learning disabilities when he first came to Meadowview and the faculty and staff literally changed his life. He said their support made him believe whatever he wanted to do he could achieve.
“It’s (his 13-month tour in Iraq) not all bad,” said Adams. “The camaraderie I shared with my fellow brothers and sisters can’t be put into words. People there become part of your family and that’s something I’d never take back.”
He urged students to use military virtues such as loyalty, duty, respect, self-service, integrity and perseverance in everyday life.
“I thank all who served before me and opened doors for younger soldiers to serve,” Adams said as he told the audience the American public was not receptive to Vietnam veterans returning from war. He said their sacrifice is what caused changes for future generations.
He said now soldiers “cannot walk five feet without someone thanking you” and said that was a significant change in attitude for the American population.
“I cannot tell you how great the impact of this school’s staff, teachers means to me,” Adams said. “If you get nothing else from my speech, know that there is nothing that can stop you if you want it with all your heart and soul and work to make it happen.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-719-1952.