MCC Middle School honors those who served

November 12, 2012

Rolling Thunder performs their Prisoner of War table ceremony

Story and photos by Miranda Beebe

SCOTTVILLE – “They’re your celebrities, not athletes, or dancers and singers. This group of people, they’re your celebrities.”  Sherry Thalman gestures at the large group of veterans sitting in front of the students.  Thalman (along with Phil Quinlan) is a major part of the Veterans’ program that took place Monday at Mason County Central Middle School.

“Veterans’ Day is the ability to honor the people who have served and died to protect our country,” said Jack Stibitz who teaches eighth grade math. All of his uncles on his dad’s side served in World War II or Korea. He said his father-in-law also served.  “Students need to realize that the freedoms they enjoy aren’t free.” After the ceremony, he added it was, “Utterly amazing, fantastic. This is my second year being able to watch, and it gets better. It’s exciting to watch the students and veterans interact in a positive way.”

The Dale Rinkevicz family donated $3000 to the program. Great Lakes Energy also made a donation of $1,000 and the Lewis Brown family donated over 100 books to the new Veterans Library

“Veteran’s Day is about saying thank you and teaching the kids about the things that happened in the past so they can pass it on and learn from it,” said Lori Fessenden whose brother is currently a chief warrant officer 3 for the Michigan Army National Guard and her sister-in-law also serves. She said the program is very touching, and there are always a lot of watery eyes.  “[Students] need to learn the stories straight from the veterans, so they aren’t lost.”

“Veterans’ Day is important because it’s an honorary moment for veterans all around, it’s their day of rest,” said Jared Woods, an eighth grader who has a relative in the Air Force. He also says he’s considering joining the Air Force when he’s older.

Sixth grader Seth Kuhn said Veterans’ Day is very important because they deserve to be proud and be recognized for serving our country. Someday, he wants to join the Marines.

Natalie Lyon, a seventh grader, says it’s a time of peace and remembrance for our amazing vets, and she has relatives in the Marines. “The assembly was very nice and the veterans seemed very appreciative of it. All of the kids that participated worked hard. It was beautiful.”

“It was a really cool experience, to meet and hear the stories of veterans,” eighth grader Jackson Hill said. Jackon’s step-dad and grandpa both served in the Marines, and he is going to be in the service some day.

Charles Hagerman, Jr., 64, of Ludington said it is important to remember that freedom isn’t free, and that ordinary people serve for our country. He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War from 1967-1988.

Fred Nelson, 64, from Beulah was 19 when he was drafted into the Army. “It’s important to make sure our veterans and future veterans don’t get forgotten, like the ones from Vietnam did.” He served from 1968-1970.

Chuck Carr, 61, of Kalera was 18 when he joined the Army. “I thought it was a duty I should take on, I joined on my own.” He served in Vietnam from 1969-1970. He added it’s important for the students to realize the sacrifice of parents and grandparents, and it’s important for the veterans to be recognized and be proud.

The question, “What does Veterans’ Day mean to you?” seemed to be a hard one. There’s usually a long pause, but the answers sounded a lot alike. Many include being thankful to, honoring, and remembering our veterans.  Events like MCC Middle School’s Veterans’ Day program are important to show the veterans we care. If you know someone who served, or you see a veteran somewhere, shake their hand and give them a genuine thank you. Always remember them, when you’re at school, when you’re at work, when you’re safe with your family, or doing something you love. Think of them, since they’re the reason you’re able to be free.

After all, this is the “home of the free, because of the brave.” -Unknown


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