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story.lead_photo.caption Westside Eagle Observer/MIKE ECKELS The guest speaker for the Nov. 8 Decatur High School Veterans Day assembly was Ken Holland, a Marine Corps veteran who grow up in the Gravette area.

DECATUR -- So many service men and women have paid in blood over the last 100 years so that we, as Americans, can enjoy the freedom to assemble anytime and anywhere to express our views and pay tribute to those who gave us that right. Decatur Middle and High School exercised this right Nov. 8 when they gathered at Peterson Gym in Decatur to pay homage to all those who served and died in this nation's military.

The event was organized four years ago by Toby Conrad, principal at Decatur High School, as a way to teach the students what it means to be free and to remember those who fought for that freedom. During the weeks leading up to Veterans Day in 2015, Conrad found that many of the students at Decatur High School were oblivious to just what Veterans Day was.

In the course of three days that year, Conrad brought students and veterans together in an assembly where the kids learned first-hand what sacrifice, honor and duty really mean. This year's event was no different.

Students from grades 5-12 gathered in Peterson Gym to hear from veterans like Ken Holland, guest speaker, who served in the United States Marine Corps. They heard patriotic music from the Decatur High School band and choir and the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M choir, which ended the program with the Lee Greenwood and now American standard, "God Bless the U.S.A."

The kids learned the origins of the holiday once called Armistice Day from local historian, Mike Eckels. And they were treated to a slideshow showcasing many area veterans in peacetime poses, and in war, which included Matt McClure, a former F-16 pilot with the 188th wing of the Arkansas National Guard, and Reuben Barnes, a member of the United States Marine Corps and a Decatur native.

Afterward, the veterans were treated to a lunch prepared by several members of the Decatur High School family and consumer science class. The students at Decatur Middle and High Schools had the chance to say thank you to the veterans for their service to this country.

General News on 11/14/2018

Print Headline: Decatur students get lesson on sacrifice, honor, duty from military veterans

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