BROOKVILLE — The Brookville Local School District hosted the annual Veterans Day ceremony on Friday, Nov. 10, in the school’s gymnasium.
More than 100 Veterans, their families and friends and local dignitaries attended the event.
The event featured the school district’s elementary students, who honored and thanked the Veterans for their service to the United States.
The ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance led by students Will Stammen, Greyce Hoops and Caleb Gulley.
The Pledge was followed by the National Anthem performed by Brookville High School’s Shades of Blue.
Guest speaker was Major James Bailey (U.S. Army, retired), who is the father of Capen and Reese Bailey.
“I want to talk to you, our young friends, about the importance of Veterans Day and share some of my own experiences as a Veteran,”Maj. Bailey said.
“I had the incredible privilege of serving in the military to protect our country and keep it safe,”Maj. Bailey continued.
“I want to tell you about some of the amazing things I got to do during my time in the military. As a soldier in the Army, I had the opportunity to travel to different places and meet people from all over the world,” Maj. Bailey said.
Maj. Bailey noted one of his most memorable experiences was serving as a Calvary scout platoon leader in the 389 Calvary Regiment, 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division during “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan.
“I was part of a team that patrolled the mountains and valleys looking out for any threats to our fellow soldiers and the people of Afghanistan,” Maj. Bailey said.
“It was a challenging and sometimes dangerous mission, but we worked together to keep each other safe,” Maj. Bailey continued.
Maj. Bailey said after returning from Afghanistan, he continued to serve in different leadership roles.
“I became a battalion transportation officer and later served as an Inspector General, responsible for insuring that the military units I worked with where operating efficiently and following the rules,” Maj. Bailey said.
“It was a rewarding experience that helped my fellow soldiers and ensure that our mission was carried out effectively,” Maj. Bailey continued.
Maj. Bailey said after leaving the military, he founded a non-profit organization called Big Time Faith, “which is dedicated to supporting Veterans, first responders, nurses and therapists.”
“Big Time Faith provides them with resources and support to help them overcome challenges and find peace through various activities like martial arts, hunting, fishing, training and yoga,” Maj. Bailey said.
Maj. Bailey spoke to the students about possibly being nervous if they had to leave family and friends in order to go to “new places and do new things.”
Maj. Bailey admitted he was nervous when he left home to serve in the military.
“It was a big step. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I made some incredible friends along the way that became like family to me. One of them I named my son after,” Maj. Bailey said.
“Those friends made me feel like I was never really alone, even when we were far away from home,” Maj Bailey continued.
“They taught me that even in new and unfamiliar places you can find people who care about you and support you,” Maj. Bailey said.
Maj. Bailey told the students the same will happen for them if they find themselves in another place.
“Just like I found friends who became like family, you’ll find friends, too. Friends who will help you feel more comfortable and less nervous,” Maj. Bailey said.
“So boys and girls, don’t be afraid to step into new adventures,” Maj. Bailey said.
Maj. Bailey concluded by saying “as we honor Veterans who have served out country, let’s also remember to welcome all people as friends.”
“Just like in the military, you never know when you might need the person as you look to your left and right for a battle to come,” Maj. Bailey said.
“We are all a part of a big supportive community. By being kind and welcoming to others we create a strong network of friends who will stand by us in both good times and tough times,” Maj. Bailey said.
Following Bailey’s comments was the singing of patriotic songs by the students.
The preschool and kindergarten students sang “Thank You To Our Veterans.”
The first grade students sang “Oh, I Love America.”
The second grade students sang “Stars and Strips Forever.”
The third grade students sang “We Will Not Forget” and “United We Stand.”
Student Calvin Osswald introduced each branch of the military during the playing of “The Armed Forces Medley.”
A moving patriotic movie released in 2010, entitled “I Fought For You” followed the medley.
The movie pays tribute to the men and women who served in the country’s armed forces and to the men and women who risk their lives to defend the country today.
Second grade teacher Jessica Nawroth presented “America’s White Table.”
The table honors the men and women who served in America’s armed forces.
“The white table is a place that no one will ever sit,” Nawroth said.
“It was first put up by the Red River fighter pilots who fought in the Vietnam War in honor of those prisoners of war and those missing in action,” Nawroth continued.
“It is for the devotion and the concern for those who have fallen and are missing,” Nawroth explained.
Nawroth said “the (table) cloth is white for purity of their motive, their pure hearts when answering their call to duty.”
“The white candle is for peace and hope that they one day will return,” Nawroth said.
“The single red rose reminds us of the life, and the blood that was shed, and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith and await answers,” Nawroth continued.
Nawroth said the ribbon is “the commitment and continued determination to account for our missing.”
“A slice of lemon on the plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land,” Nawroth said.
“The salt reminds us of the tears shed by those missing and their families who still seek answers,” Nawroth continued.
Nawroth said the black napkin is “a reminder of the isolation, the deprivation and cruel fate of our missing.”
Nawroth said the chair is empty and tilted (because they are not here).
Nawroth added the chair will remain titled until they return or are accounted for.
Nawroth said the Bible “represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.”
“Boys and girls, the men and women here before you are extremely brave. They are heroes and someone to look up to,” Nawroth said.
Nawroth’s presentation was followed by the bugle call “Echo Taps, “ played by BHS trumpet players Jay Tolle and Austin Taylor.
After “Echo Taps” was finished, Brookville Elementary Principal Shawn Thomas closed the program by reminding the audience the importance of being an American.
“If you remember one special piece from today, I hope it is that you are American and the freedom we enjoy is because we are not afraid to stand together as Americans and fight for our freedom,” Thomas said.
“By wearing the colors red, white and blue – our flag – you are showing your pride in being an American and your patriotism.” Thomas said.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Veterans attended a luncheon held at Rob’s Restaurant, located at 705 Arlington Road.
The restaurant was packed with Veterans who enjoyed a free meal.
The luncheon was open to all active and retired military personnel.
The annual event was sponsored by the Brookville and Clay Township police departments.
Also on hand were the Miami Valley Career Technical Center Criminal Justice students who helped serve the veterans.
The Clay Township business community provided the majority of the funding for the event as they have done in the past.
Reach Terry Baver at [email protected].