Organized by ACHS Choral Director Andrea Gardner, the program included vocal performances from the school choir with special guests from the community, music from the school band, and participation by the school’s JROTC which provided a thunderous 21-gun salute.
Veterans were honored by name and military branch, and the choir performed the theme song for each branch – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard – as veterans of each of those stood for recognition. There was a moment of silence for those who had lost their lives in service and those who have passed.
John Brown, instructor with the JROTC program, spoke about people coming together to salute veterans and recognize the men and women who have defended the nation’s rights and freedoms. He said it was especially nice to include the schools and young people in that recognition.
Brown introduced students Emily Long and Katie Orr who spoke about patriotism. Long noted that the country was founded on patriotism which is still alive in volunteers to military service. Patriotism is important every hour of every day, she said. Orr added that patriots take pride in what they do but never brag. “Does patriotism still matter?” she asked. “How could it not?”
Every generation produces its patriots, Brown said, as Americans are asked again and again to protect liberty and the American way of life. “They don’t call themselves heroes; they just say they’re doing their job,” he said. Becoming emotional talking about a POW soldier killed by his captors in 1965, Brown reminded everyone that those heroes and patriots have lives just like everyone else and should always be honored and remembered. He asked everyone to gaze at the American flag, the symbol of all that is free and that veterans have fought and died for.
The very moving ceremony was brought to a close by Principal Jason Krider who encouraged everyone to thank veterans for their service and to work to protect what they have defended.
Veterans were also saluted this week, on Tuesday, at Ashe County Middle School, on Wednesday morning at Westwood Elementary School, and at the county ceremony Thursday morning at the Veterans Memorial at Ashe County Courthouse.