San Rafael celebrates Veterans
San Rafael Junior High presented their annual Veteran's Day program on Nov. 9 at the school. Several veterans were on hand to be honored. Principal Doug Mecham, new to the school this year said this was his first opportunity to participate in the Veteran's Day program and he is honored.
The state legislature passed a law that all secondary schools would each morning recite the pledge of allegiance led by a student. The students and teachers at San Rafael have been very active seeing this is done each day at the beginning of school. Principal Mecham said, "I have been putting some thoughts together about what patriotism means to me and how I have received opportunities from the service of these gentlemen and ladies. I have received blessings from your service. I had the opportunity to go to France on a mission. The gratitude those people there feel for what the Americans did for them in the war is heartwarming. You would knock on a door and tell them you were Americans and they would grab you and hug you. They appreciated so much the Americans helping to free their countries from Nazi rule. I take students to Europe and I've visited Normandy. No one can go to these places and not feel the sacrifices of those soldiers who died there. In a village in Luxembourg, they remember when the soldiers during Christmas time gave gifts of their chocolate and rations to the local village children. We should honor them for their strength of character and thank them for serving our country with honor. When we recite the pledge of allegiance and when we see the flag it should serve as a reminder of what our veterans sacrificed for us.
"My son used to play the bugle for the Huntington American Legion. I would accompany him as he performed this service. I also had the opportunity to walk with him on the beaches at Normandy and see what affect this had on him. Thank you veterans, I have been a recipient of your service. On Tuesday, I took the opportunity to vote, I live in a free country and I can do as I please and it's because of your service and sacrifice for our country," said Principal Mecham.
Narrators Derek Anderson, Camrey Johnson, Devin Willson, Madi Allinson and Zach Fauver told of the history of the flag and how it changed over the years with the addition of the new states. The flag is a symbol of hope, strength and charity. It's there at athletic events, schools, disasters and war to give people strength, hope and encouragement.
A video was played of the recitation of the Ragged Old Flag by Johnny Cash. The school honored Sonny and Willie Robertson for their service to our country. They are currently serving in Afghanistan and they sent a flag to the school which was used as they flew a mission. They are doing really well and 99 percent of the pilots have successful flights. The flag will be on display in the library at the school. Their little brother Ricky is a student at San Rafael and he said a few words about his family history in the military and how proud he is of grandpas and now his brothers serving and he looks forward to a time when he might serve, too.
Sam Singleton, former principal at San Rafael and a veteran spoke to the audience. He said when San Rafael was a new school in 1976 they began the Veteran's Day program and it's been going ever since. "I am glad to see this tradition is alive and well at the school. This morning as I prepared to come to this program, I looked to the desert and saw the beautiful sunrise, I looked and saw the beautiful mountains, but none of it was as beautiful as when I arrived at this school and saw Old Glory flying. That was the most beautiful sight. Betsy Ross is credited with sewing the first flag. I wonder if our flag will change again. Puerto Rico just voted that they would like to become a state. I wonder if Congress will approve them to be the 51st state.
"The red in the flag represents hardiness and valor. The white represents purity and innocence. The blue represents perseverance. Let's help uphold those values. In 1892, Francis Belamy wrote the pledge of allegiance. How great that we can pledge allegiance to our flag. The sound of Taps is a most beautiful sound we hear at our veterans funerals and other times. It's never been decided how taps began. One story is that it started with the Civil War. A captain on the northern side heard a soldier who had been wounded, he crossed the line and went and pulled him back. He discovered the soldier was his own son. The son had a sheet of paper in his pocket with the notes for Taps that he had written down. The son died and the father had the song played at his son's funeral. There are other stories of its origin. I look at all of the sacrifices that have been made for us. Sacrifices to make America great. In the Civil war there were 140,400 soldiers lost for the Union and 74,500 for the confederates. In World War I there were 53,400 casualties, in World War II there were 291,500, 33,000 in Korea and 47,000 in Vietnam. That's more than 960,000 people who sacrificed their lives so America can enjoy freedom.
"On the statue of Liberty the words say "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door." Many of your ancestors who came to America, saw the Statue of Liberty. Look ahead to the future. You are our future. You will make our country great and strong in the future. When America was settled, people could not realize how great America had become. France sent an ambassador over here to see what made America great. He returned to France and said, 'America is great because America is good. If America ceases to be good she will cease to be great.'
Singleton said he started teaching in the fall of 1950, that year he received a letter drafting him to the Korean war. He served there for two years. "It was a very satisfying, experience to know I was making a contribution to keep America great. America will continue to be great because of people like you."
The narrators continued saying that in Arlington National Cemetery there are more than 300,000 soldiers buried there. Monuments have been erected to honor all Veterans from the wars. Other countries also have memorials to honor our soldiers who died fighting for freedom for other countries.
The choir under the direction of Heidi Hill sang the fourth verse of the National Anthem and then invited the school and visitors to sing the first verse of the National Anthem with them.
Two buglers, Kyler Farley and Landon Barnett played Taps as the audience arose to honor fallen heroes.
Principal Mecham encouraged all to gain a respect and a love for our American flag, "Whenever you see this flag let it bring images to mind of the many opportunities we have here in this country."