On Friday, November 9, Stafford Elementary and Italy High School combined talents to honor our local Veterans. Even the youngest of the group participated in the honors.
Italy FFA began the assembly with a presentation of the United States and Texas flags. Reid Jacinto led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, while Katie Byers led the Texas Pledge. Vanessa Cantu sang The National Anthem. Meagan Hooker explained a Veteran is an ordinary person accomplishing extraordinary events with a special poem she wrote especially for the program. Italy High School Principal, Lee Joffre, welcomed local Veterans and introduced the Italy High School Regiment Band as they played the theme song associated with each branch of service. Each Veteran stood when he heard his own service song.
The speaker of the day was Brian Coffman, head boys basketball coach and assistant football coach at IHS and US Navy man. “I am a veteran of the First Gulf War, a precursor to today’s war. We call it Desert Storm. I honor those who come before me and the ones who still fight today. We should honor our Veterans of today.”
Coffman went on to suggest that people should ask Veterans about the good times and places they have seen-the good things. “It’s not about what we’ve done but the freedom we have today,” he explained. “For a man to know peace, a man must prepare for war.” Coach Coffman finished his speech by simply saying, “Let freedom ring.”
The Stafford Student Council took turns honoring our Veterans by citing a poem about gratitude and also explaining how poppies have become a symbol of remembrance of wars before. Each Veteran in attendance was given a handmade poppy pin made by the Student Council to wear for the day. According to Wikipedia, poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields in World War I. The red color of the flower is appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in war and is used today in countries around the world for remembrance. A poem was even written about them by John McCrae in 1915.
In Flanders’ Fields
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields.
After the Stafford Kindergarden and first graders sang Grand Old Flag, Reid Jacinto played Taps to a standing group of Veterans and a quiet audience.
A reception was held for the Veterans in the high school library immediately following the program.