Veterans Day activities this past week prompted the Watchman staff to attend a few notable services in different areas of the county. The usual annual events were held to honor those men and women who sacrificed to ensure and preserve the liberties we all enjoy in America and, in particular for us, a freedom of speech and the press.
Among the touching ceremonies, we were privileged again to witness school students from around the county as they attended assemblies at their respective schools to learn about the service of local veterans (See the Wednesday, November 12 edition).
Students and staff at Eastern Local Schools honored military veterans at an assembly where they had an opportunity to shake hands with men like Michael Cantrell, a veteran of the war in Iraq. Cantrell spoke of long separations from families, missing births and enduring hardships.
A moment of silence was held in honor of Sgt. Justin Helton, who was an Eastern graduate and one of five American servicemen to be killed in Afghanistan on June 9 of this year.
It is because of sacrifices like those made by Helton that children in our schools should be reminded each year that they are free to learn, study and think freely only because of those who paid the price.
In the Western Local School District, an impressive new memorial was unveiled and dedicated to students and vets at a special assembly.
The impressive new memorial, the brainchild of the Western Local Board of Education (Board President Joe Grooms is an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam Era), was constructed by Western graduates and features flags denoting each branch of service in the United States Armed Forces.
“It is sitting here on our site, but this is a taxpayer-owned school. This is a taxpayer-owned memorial,” said Western Assistant School Superintendent Brock Brewster. “This has been done for the veterans, alive and deceased, of this community for what they have done for us.”
We believe there is a rich and rewarding heritage of patriotism in Pike County that is evident in the way locals celebrate servicemen and women each year. May Pike County always honor and remember these great people as they did this past week, and continue to extend that heritage to its youth.