Paragould High School celebrated Veterans Day Nov. 11 with a program presented by the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, and it featured two veteran speakers.
“When I think of Veterans Day, I think of the American flag,” said Army Lt. Col. (ret.) Tim Norman, the school’s senior instructor for its Army Junior ROTC program. “If you have a veteran that’s in your family, I want you to think about an eighth of an inch of thread in the flag. That eighth of an inch belongs to you.”
Norman said that ownership is because whatever relative had served in the armed forces also owns that piece of the flag. “I own an eighth of an inch,” he said.
Norman added that when people look at the American flag, they should realize the flag is not just a symbol of the country. “It’s you, it’s me, so that’s why we stand up when we do the pledge [of allegiance],” he said.
Norman thanked those currently serving, those who have served and those contemplating military service. “We honor you every day,” he said. And he concluded by quoting former Florida Congressman and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Allen West: “’We must never forget why we have, and why we need, our military,’” he said. “Our armed forces exist solely so that each and very one of us can sleep soundly at night, knowing that we have guardian angels standing at the gate.’”
Paragould Police Cpl. Kenny Hall, an Army veteran and 16-year veteran of the police force with eight on the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team – and the district’s School Resource Officer – was the other featured speaker. Echoing Norman’s comments, Hall said the United States of America would not be the country it is today without veterans. “[These are] men and women who pushed themselves both mentally and physically beyond their own capabilities,” he said, “to defend the land of the free.”
Hall said there are about 2.2 million service members, counting active, reserve and National Guard personnel. Noting that he is one of several generations in his family – including his son – who have served. Hall nonetheless said he felt he was “not worthy” to give a Veterans Day address.
And rather than tell “war stories” of his own experiences, Hall described what Veterans Day means to him. “I chose to go into the military to be a part of the greatest brotherhood on earth,” he said. Hall said he had exercised his choices in where to live, how many children to have and – most of all – how to worship his Creator without fear of persecution. “The government did not dictate that for us,” Hall said.
So what is Veterans Day? “It’s a day to honor all who served, or are serving,” he said, “so that we can do all the things I just described – a day to honor those who have given us the opportunity to have liberty and freedom, and to live in this great republic.”
Hall answered a rhetorical question he’d posed, saying a republic is a state in which supreme power is held by the people. “That is us,” Hall said.
“Know this: freedom in this great republic isn’t free,” he concluded. “It does come with a cost. Your military and veterans pay that cost every day.”
Before introducing Norman and Hall, mistress of ceremonies Grace Jankoviak thanked the more than 25 million Americans who had answered the call to defend freedom and turn back aggressors by joining the military. “We can never repay our debt of gratitude to the more than 650,000 American servicemen who died in battle,” she said, “or the 1.4 million who were wounded.”
She continued by saying the school appreciates the veterans of yesterday, today and tomorrow for their service and honors them for their sacrifice. “The price of freedom is high,” she said, “we cannot afford to forget those who are willing to pay it.”
The school’s program also featured recognition of veterans in attendance, a slide show of those veterans who were related to school staff or students, and patriotic musical pieces.