Local veterans Tom Davis, Bob Jurn, Paul Hoisington and Jack Little focus their attention on the high school chorale during Honor Roll ceremony held in their honor on Friday at Imlay City High School. photo by Tom Wearing.
November 26, 2008
IMLAY CITY — One could nearly feel the pride bursting through the chests of a roomful of veterans in attendance for a Nov. 21 Honor Roll Reception at the high school.
Coordinated by teachers Amy Bosma and Florence Gyomory, the program included lunch, patriotic songs from the high school's chorale group, poems, speeches and a PowerPoint presentation honoring dozens of veterans with local connections.
The event began with an introduction of guests and recognition of veterans by students Dyllan Walker and Cielito Rodriguez; followed by several performances from the chorale under the direction of Linda Felton.
Other highlights included a reading of "In Flanders Fields" by student Nathaniel Summers; a welcome from Justin Appenzeller; and a poignant speech and personal poem offered by retired U.S. Air Force veteran Jack Little.
In his speech, Little spoke of the unique bonds that are shared by all who serve in uniform.
"I've been very proud to have been able to serve this great nation," Little said. "The camaraderie we feel may be hard to understand by people in civilian life. But we all know what it is to need one another. It's a privilege to be here today with so many of my fellow veterans."
The program concluded with a rendition of "Taps," played by high school trumpeter Wyatt VanPoppelen.
While some of the honorees slowly walked toward the exits, others took pause to reacquaint themselves with one another or to share their stories and experiences with students.
Desert Storm veteran Gary Martin (U.S. Navy) was particularly appreciative of the school's efforts on behalf of veterans.
"I think this is great for the school to do something like this—and for the kids to be involved," said Martin. "It's nice to see the guys who served in World War II and Korea and to learn about their experiences."
Fellow veteran Tom Davis believes respect for the military has grown among young people in recent years.
"I'm very proud to see what this school is doing," said Davis, whose son, Richard, 18, has signed up to join the Marines in July. "For a long time the stigma of Vietnam hung over all veterans. What I'm seeing with the young people is that that's gone.
"There is a willingness to serve and appreciation for those who do," he said. "I'm humbled and proud to be here for this program."
For at least one veteran who lingered long after the program concluded, there was well-deserved reward.
As he walked through the hallway on his way to the school parking lot, veteran Paul Hoisington was intercepted by a lone high school student.
"I just wanted to thank you for what you did for us," said 16-year-old Alex Touchette, reaching out to shake Hoisington's hand.