Veterans honored at MHS

Thursday, November 18, 2004
Veterans accepting an honorary diloma from Manila High School during the Veteran's Day program are, from left: J.C. Green, Jim Mills, Tracy Ritz (accepting on behalf of her grandfather, Louie Wadley) and Paul Fleeman. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

All veterans were honored at a special Veteran's Day ceremony held at Manila High School at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The ceremony opened with the MHS/MJHS Band, under the direction of Jon Myers, playing God Bless the USA. John Harwood and David Lee led the presentation of Colors.

The Manila Junior High Choir sang "Stars and Stripes" followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Jonna Blankenship.

High School student Joe Ward sang the National anthem and Jennifer Duffel gave the invocation.

Blake Reinhart welcomed everyone and introduced Melvin Browning, veteran,coordinator of the Veteran's Day ceremony.

Browning read "A Soldier's Prayer," that is inscribed on a Vietnam War monument in Virginia.

"As we assemble today, the 86th anniversary of the signing of the treaty to end World War I, on this cold and grey November Day, we show not only our respect, but give honor to those brave military men and women who throughout our history from the Revolutionary War to Iraqi Freedom, have given so much to our country," Browning said. "Some gave of their time, others their arms, legs, eyes, hearing, minds and then especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice -- their lives. To them we owe our all.

"Many young men and women answered the call of duty and left their homes for the sake of freedom. Freedom that enables you to assemble here today. Freedom to Pledge Allegiance to the Flag. Freedom to attend the church of your choice. Freedom to vote the way you choose. Freedom to travel this great country called America without worry of guarded borders and freedom to protect yourself and your family from harms' way.

"But, rest assured, these freedoms did not come without a price. Freedom is not free. Freedoms' cost is far more precious than gold or silver. It cost human misery, broken homes where fathers and mothers, sons and daughters never returned from war. Freedom also cost thousands of lives throughout our country's history. Never take your freedom for granted, and never get so complacent that you lose the freedoms you now enjoy and so dearly cherish. When freedom, like anything else, is lost, it is not easy to regain."

Browning continued giving praise to the men and women who have sacrificed and made the world a safer place in which to live.

Browning reminded the young people and guests to reflect on what freedom and Veterans' Day is about and the cost of that freedom.

"Today, I am proud to say, "Thank God for America and Thank God that I am an American," Browning said.

High School student Blane Lawrence introduced the guest speaker, Ray Dill. Dill served in the U.S. Military serving two terms in Vietnam.

Dill reminded the young people that today is an important day in their lives.

"I want the world to know this morning that I am reporting for duty. If my country needs me, I'll go," Dill said.

"You young people are the present America," Dills aid. "You live in America, you have freedom because men and women that served. You have a great school system and a great country."

Dill went on to talk about the definition of a Patriot.

"A patriot will fight and die for freedom," Dill said. "Freedom does not come free. Someone paid the price. War changes men's natures."

Dill spoke of the dedication and commitment of the soldiers that take on the responsibility of guarding the Tomb of the unknown soldiers.

The MHS and MJSH Choir, under the direction of Matt Sheets, presented the Armed Forces Salute with each branch of the military service being honored.

Seven veterans were recognized and received honorary diplomas from MHS. John Byford, Harry Parks, Jim Mills, J.C. Green, Leonard Sandusky, Paul Fleeman and Louie Wadley, were among the many men that joined the military during the Korean or Vietnam era before completing their high school education.

Superintendent Pam Castor gave a tribute to them and the sacrifices they made.

"Thanks to act 216 and Act 453 of the 2003 Legislative Session, we are allowed to present these honorary diplomas to these deserving veterans," Castor said. "I am proud to present these diplomas to the dedicated veterans for services rendered to the United States of America and men of all nations desiring to live free lives."

President of the School Board Rob Veach presented the diplomas to the veterans present, Green, and Miss. Wadley's granddaughter accepted the diploma for her grandfather.

Devin Ford played the Marine Corp Hymn following by the band playing Amazing Grace.

John Harwood and Samantha Quinn took charge of the laying of the wreath. Nathan Sammons and Casey and Ian greenwood conducted the flag folding ceremony. The Band play the hymn to the fallen. Vanessa Wagner played Taps.

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