High schools to host Veterans Day programs in honor of service to country

Published 5:54 pm Monday, November 5, 2018

As time passes after a war, its details tend to blur. Veterans Service Officer David Batchelder hopes the sacrifices the soldiers made do not fade along with them.

Batchelder said they have been doing the program since the day he took the position.

“We have been doing it for at least 20 years,” he said.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

He said the program’s purpose is about recognizing and honoring veterans and the sacrifices they have made during their service.

Additionally, the program is meant to teach high schoolers the meaning behind these sacrifices and about how their freedoms are fought for, so Batchelder said they rotate between high schools every year to host the program.

“It gives the people in school the appreciation for their sacrifices,” Batchelder said. “It teaches them to not take their freedoms for granted, to remember who helped them keep their freedoms.”

The program rarely exceeds an hour long, Batchelder said, and features a Flag Folding ceremony, a recognition of veterans and guests and a “Missing Man” table.

He said this table with an empty, covered chair represents the numerous soldiers either MIA (missing in action) or POWs (prisoners of war).

Batchelder said the program has changed over the years. For example, the Flag Folding ceremony replaced a “Recognition of Different Conflicts,” a ceremony meant to demonstrate the various military conflicts throughout American history, including both world wars and the American Revolution. He said the ceremony did not resonate with the students and they were not getting much out of it, so they changed it to the similar Flag Folding instead.

Batchelder said this program is important, “now more than ever” as politics heat up.

“We still are one country,” he said. “We need to put aside our differences, and recognize those who gave us the right to disagree.”

He said veterans who have participated in past programs feel privileged helping to educate others about what they have gone through and sacrificed.

Veterans themselves are not the only focus, however. Batchelder said the family members of veterans are also deserving of recognition.

“I deal with a lot of surviving spouses,” he said. “It is very rewarding to work with them through their struggles.”

Batchelder said they encourage everyone to attend if they can.

“We have a lot of older veterans who cannot get out,” he said. “Everyone who knows a veteran should go out and shake their hand, tell them they appreciate them,” Batchelder said. “It means a lot to them, especially if it is coming from the younger generation.”

The program itself will take place at Cloudland High School on Friday, Nov. 9, at 10 a.m. and at Elizabethton High School on Monday, Nov. 12, at 9:30 a.m. Cloudland’s program will host a reception following the program.