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story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Mike Eckels A group of military veterans from the Howard-Parrish Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9834 in Decatur watch a video presentation during the second annual Decatur High School Veterans Day Assembly at Peterson Gym in Decatur Nov. 11.

— Veterans who put their lives on the line to preserve the freedom we cherish were honored on a day set aside to remember their sacrifices. For students, faculty and staff of the Decatur School District, Veterans Day was a time to honor those military veterans and to say thank you.

The students gathered at Peterson Gym in Decatur Nov. 11 to celebrate the second annual Decatur High School Veterans Day assembly. The event was organized by Toby Conrad, DHS principal, to honor the men and women of this nation's armed forces. For the students, faculty, staff and honored guests it was a lesson in patriotism, duty and sacrifice.

After the presentation of the colors by the Howard-Parrish Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9834, the Decatur High School band, under the direction of Jesse Owens, played the "National Anthem" to begin the hour-long program. The Decatur High School choir followed the band with a beautiful performance of "America the Beautiful."

Conrad gave a short history lesson in the origins of this holiday. He explained that Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, was written as a proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson on Nov. 18, 1918, only seven days after the armistice was signed ending World War I. By act of Congress in 1938, Armistice Day was formally made a legal American holiday. The name was changed to Veterans Day by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954.

Conrad took the lesson one step further with a recitation of a work by famed comedian Red Skeleton entitled "Commentary on the Pledge of Allegiance." During one of his television broadcasts in 1969, Skeleton related a story about one of his school teachers breaking down the meaning of each word in the pledge.

"I - Me; an individual: a committee of one. Pledge - Dedicated all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity. Allegiance - My love and my devotion." (

At the conclusion of this commentary, Conrad led the assembly in the "Pledge of Allegiance."

The guest speaker for this year's event was Pastor Jheri Roberts, who grew up eight miles north of Gravette. Roberts was a 22 year veteran of the military, joining the Marine Corps in 1987. Two years later he transferred to the U.S. Army, where he served in both Desert Storm in 1990 and Operation Enduring Freedom in Kosovo in 2005. He retired from the service in 2009 and he returned to Northwest Arkansas, where he currently serves as pastor of the Bethlehem Church in Decatur.

The Decatur High School Band, directed by Jesse Owens, performed "Celebrations of TAPS" with trumpet soloist Dylan Frydrychowski.

The program concluded with the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Choir and Tatiana Taylor, director, performing an Armed Forces Salute, a medley of the five military service songs which included the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps anthems.

The NEO choir started its journey to Northwest Arkansas from Miami, Okla., early in the morning. The hour and 15-minute trip was supposed to be routine. However, shortly after departing Miami, the bus broke down. After the replacement bus arrived, the group continued its journey to Decatur, arriving only minutes before the program's end. In spite of this delay, the choir performed the service songs with the precision of a well-oiled machine.

As each of the service songs were performed by the choir, the veterans from that particular branch of the service stood to be honored.

After the program, students of Decatur High School had the chance to meet each of the veterans and thank them for their service to the country.

From World War 1 to Operation Enduring Freedom, men and women from all walks of life have given of themselves in defense of freedom. Veterans Day was established to remember those brave souls who gave so much to defend our rights to live free. That was the goal of President Wilson when he proclaimed Nov. 11 a day to remember our nation's military veterans.

General News on 11/16/2016

Print Headline: Decatur High School honors Veterans

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