Elkin High School held its annual Veterans Day memorial ceremony Friday.
Students are out of school Monday to observe the national holiday, so the assembly was held Friday morning.
The school’s JROTC program held the observance in Dixon Auditorium. Freshmen, sophomores and juniors stood and recognized the Class of 2014 as the seniors entered.
Principal Joel Hoyle welcomed the students, faculty members and specials guests. Cadets took turns explaining the importance of Veterans Day and its history through prepared speeches and readings of poems and prayers.
Contrary to what many adults and students think, Veterans Day is holiday to honor all the members of the military, both living and dead, who have served the United States.
Memorial Day is an equally important day designated to the memory of only the fallen military personnel.
Veterans Day was first observed on Nov. 11, 1919. President Woodrow Wilson dedicated the day to honor the end of World War I, which ended with the signing of the Armistice of Compiegne.
The war officially ended at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 — the reason for the day’s place on the calendar.
“Armistice” Day was later changed to honor all veterans, not just WWI soldiers. Congress amended the name to Veterans Day in 1954.
A slideshow celebrated Elkin High School’s veterans. Photos of faculty members who have served the country were intermixed with photos of veterans serving and returning from wars like World War II, Vietnam and Iraq.
The ceremony’s guest speaker was Capt. John A. Topper III, the assistant professor of military science at Wake Forest University.
Topper served in the Air Force from 1988 to 1999. He re-enlisted in the Army Reserves in 2006.
In 2012, he was selected into the Active Guard Reserve.
Topper told the audience they should be very proud of Elkin High and its sporting accomplishments. He told of his sports experiences growing up in Pennsylvania and the pride from playing for his school and town, but said the uniform he wore in the military trumped any jersey he had worn before.
“Look at me standing before you today. I’m still wearing a uniform. But oh how much more this one represents,” Topper said of his military uniform. “Each one of us who wears it or has worn it is part of an unbelievable tradition of excellence beyond reproach. And as for what it represents, well, it goes far beyond just one community, one school and one family.”
Topper told the story of a 17-year-old soldier in World War II who dove on a grenade to save his friends. The soldier was the same age as many in the audience listening to his heroic tale.
“We owe our nation’s veterans a debt we can never repay. We can and should remember them, what they did, and why they had to be brave for us. But we must honor them with deeds, not just words,” Topper said.
Hoyle closed the assembly by telling the students to thank veterans for all of their service.
“I can’t stress the importance of Veterans Day, the importance of saying ‘thank you’ to those folks who have served our country,” Hoyle said.
Reach Taylor Pardue at 835-1513 or at email@example.com.