(Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)
The Riverside choral ensemble sang the National Anthem at the beginning of the program, led by Steven Sanders. Principal Gale Yates welcomed guests, faculty and students and recognized the 15 veterans in attendance. Students Garrett Weaver and Travis Mays presented the colors, consisting of the United States and Arkansas flags. Megan Short led the Pledge of Allegiance.
"We are honored to have our veterans with us today, from many different branches of the service," Yates said. "We have several Riverside teachers, our superintendent, as well as family members and friends that have served or that are serving in the service. We are proud of them and want to pay tribute to them today."
The veterans present included: Dalton Taylor, Army, '44-'46; Roger Williams, Air Force, '81-'85; Gary Wallace, Air Force, '69-'73; Joe Ferguson, Air Force, '67-'76; Raymond Clark, Army, '44-'45; Johnny Lemons, Marine, '57-'58; George Emery, Navy, '43-'45; Glenn Patrick, Navy Air, '41-'47; Willie Simpson, Navy, '68-'71; Roy Anderson, Army, '43-'45; Jerry Creecy, Army, '72-'74; Troy Case, Navy, '64-'68; J.B. Evans, Navy, '43-'45; Gerald Staggs, Army, '68-'72; and Irving Smith, Army, '70-'90.
The choir presented several patriotic melodies, which included "Of Thee I Sing," "Stars and Stripes," and "American Heroes."
Rev. Raymond Clark served as the event's guest speaker, and related several experiences from his time spent as a soldier in WWII.
"About 84 years ago I was my Momma's pet," Clark said. "Life was simple then as I had her to take care of me.
"When I grew up, I was faced with a lot of decisions that were not so easy for me. I came to know that we live in the greatest country in the world, America. We can enjoy every freedom that Americans can afford. We do all of this because we are free, and we are free because soldiers made sacrifices for us to stay that way.
"I have seen many men suffering in the service, that believed in freedom. I've seen them wounded, dead and frozen to death. Like the old saying goes, there are no atheists in foxholes, as they are praying for their lives.
"We had people back home working for the war effort also, those in ammunition plants and arsenals. We knew that were being supported and prayed for and often that is all that kept us going. This is a wonderful country and worth fighting for. I salute all the men and women in service today, and pray for their safe return."
Clark and the veterans were given a standing ovation by the students present, following the program.
Jon Floyd played taps on his trumpet at the close of the program.