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Veterans Appreciation Night Held At Watauga High School Wednesday Night

Watauga High School Honors Chorus sings the National Anthem. Photo by Ken Ketchie.

By Hailey Blevins

Watauga High School hosted its second annual Veterans Appreciation Night on November 7 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the school’s auditorium. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, and WHS opted to do things differently at their Veterans Appreciation Night this year.

The event opened with Dr. Chris Blanton, the WHS Principal, welcoming the veterans. “Thank you most of all to our veterans. We would not be here tonight if it were not for you. So we hope this is a special night where you feel honored. We want to make sure you understand just how much we appreciate your service to our country. We don’t fully understand the sacrifices you’ve made.”

Following the Presentation of Colors by the MCJROTC Cadets, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx attended the event and gave her appreciation  for the veterans. “I think it’s extremely important that we stop, particularly around this time of the year, to pay tribute to our veterans… We would not be here tonight, we would not have the freedom that we have, we would not have the opportunities that we have were it not for our veterans. Some served overseas, some served in the United States, but all those who were willing to serve, have served us and done so to help this country. It’s been that way since the beginning of the country.”

Congresswoman Foxx followed this statement with a discussion of the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. “This is the 100th anniversary of the ending of WWII, and many are saying it’s unfortunate we are not paying more attention to that anniversary, and I agree. It was a brutal, brutal war. In fact, it was so brutal that people thought there could not be another World War. But because we’ve been engaged in wars since then, we ought to remember what people thought then: that because of the brutality of WWI, there could never be another war, and yet that potential is always there and the need to have people serving in our military will always be there. We hope they have to serve in more, but we must be thankful to them every day for their willingness to do so. Thank you for being here tonight and thank you to all the veterans. And let us pray that God will continue to bless the United States of America with the freedom that has been won for us by the veterans.”

The event then moved into a performance of the National Anthem by the Honors Choir before Jacob Wallace continued the discussion of the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.

“Today, we are here to give reverence to those who are serving and those who have served in the armed forces. For over two hundred years, Watauga has sent its young men and women to fight for our home, for this country. Every year, we come together to honor our veterans. Originally, the celebration was known as Armistice Day. In 1918, on the 11th month of the 11th day of the 11th hour, WWI officially came to an end. This year now marks the 100th year anniversary of the end of WWI, as Congresswoman Foxx mentioned. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill, proclaiming November 11th as Veterans Day. It is our hope that by thanking America’s veterans and their families for their sacrifices, we can reward them with the honor that they so richly deserve.”

Attending veterans were then asked to stand when the WHS’s Brass Quintet performed “Armed Forces Melody” and their branch was recognized.

This year, the school looked at the event from a more historical standpoint and gave students the chance to talk about conflicts in the U.S. since the end of WWI. Three students, Rebekah Schwartz, Anna Voida and Rachel Ambrose, gave presentations. Schwartz’s presentation covered the WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Voida’s presentation covered the Cold War. Ambrose’s presentation covered the Persian Gulf War and the War on Terrorism, bringing the presentations up to the present time.

After these presentations, WHS’s Brass Quintet performed “America the Beautiful” and Principal Blanton gave his closing statement, “Mr. Wallace mentioned a few minutes ago that one day is not enough, and it’s not, and a thank you is not enough, and it’s certainly not either, but I do want to thank each and every one of you again for not only what you’ve done for our country, but what you continue to do for us and mean to us… Everything that you’ve done has allowed us to live in this country that we live in, this great country that we live in, and enjoy the freedoms that we live with. I thank you very much for what you’ve done for our country.”

Pictures by Ken Ketchie:

Watauga Sheriff and Veteran L.D. Hagaman receives his poppy pin from a student.
A student pins a poppy on Veteran Jesse Stollings.
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx gets a poppy pinned on by a student.

Cadets from the WHS MCJROTC attended the event to thank veterans and present the colors.

Students wrote notes to the veterans which were arranged to display the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day.
Notes the students wrote to the veterans, thanking them for their service to the country.
As attendees waited for the event to begin, a slideshow of veterans was running.
WHS’s MCJROTC cadets presented the colors after Principal Blanton’s opening statement.

WHS’s Honor Chorus sang the National Anthem, “Star Spangled Banner.”
Congresswoman Virginia Fox attended the event, talking about the impact veterans make on our country and thanking them for their service.
Jacob Wallace, a social studies teacher at WHS, tells the history of Veterans Day and discusses its 100th anniversary.
The WHS Brass Quintet performed “Armed Forces Melody” while veterans stood as their branch – Navy, Army, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force – was recognized.
Rebekah Schwartz, a student, gave a presentation, discussing WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
The WHS Brass Quintet performed “America the Beautiful before the closing statement.
Principal Blanton closed the event, thanking the veterans again for their sacrifices.