Smith-Cotton thanks members of Armed Forces for service to America


By Hope Lecchi - [email protected]



Members of the Smith-Cotton JROTC Color Guard stand at attention before presenting the colors at the Veteran’s Day assembly hosted by Smith-Cotton High School Wednesday morning. More than 250 veterans and family members attended the event. The assembly was a time to say thank you to the men and women who have served as members of the Armed Forces.


Cadet Col. and Battalion Cmdr. Hollee Akers, left, and Cmdr. Sgt. Major Randall Woods, center, offer their thanks to Korean War veteran Robert Jackson at the Veteran’s Day Appreciation breakfast hosted at S-C Wednesday morning. The military service men and women were described as heroes by keynote speaker state Rep. Nathan Beard, R-Sedalia. Beard told the audience the real heroes walk around us every day and go unnoticed; the real heroes are our veterans.


Members of the VFW Post 2591 raise their rifles as part of a 21-gun salute outside the S-C gymnasium. As part of a military tradition of firing three rifle shots across a grave site, the 21-gun salute consists of seven riflemen firing three volleys to make the 21 gun salute, Lt. Col Harry Cunningham said during the assembly. The 21-gun salute was followed by the playing of Taps.


Members of the Smith-Cotton student body wave American flags as members of the armed forces and veterans are escorted to their seats during the Veteran’s Day assembly at S-C Wednesday morning. Students were given the flags during their seminar class. Senior Mason Johnson brought the large American flag to the assembly. He explained he did not have a seminar class but was proud of the veterans and their service to others.


Cadet Col. and Battalion Cmdr. Hollee Akers of the S-C JROTC cuts a lemon as part of the POW/MIA tribute during the Smith-Cotton Veterans Day assembly Wednesday morning. Lt. Col. Harry Cunningham said the lemon was a symbol of the bitter fate of the POW’s and MIA members of the military if they were not brought home. JROTC cadets placed a hat representing each of the service branches on a table set in remembrance of those who had not returned from their military service.


By Hope Lecchi

[email protected]

Members of the Smith-Cotton JROTC Color Guard stand at attention before presenting the colors at the Veteran’s Day assembly hosted by Smith-Cotton High School Wednesday morning. More than 250 veterans and family members attended the event. The assembly was a time to say thank you to the men and women who have served as members of the Armed Forces.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_tsd111315scveterans11.jpgMembers of the Smith-Cotton JROTC Color Guard stand at attention before presenting the colors at the Veteran’s Day assembly hosted by Smith-Cotton High School Wednesday morning. More than 250 veterans and family members attended the event. The assembly was a time to say thank you to the men and women who have served as members of the Armed Forces.

Cadet Col. and Battalion Cmdr. Hollee Akers, left, and Cmdr. Sgt. Major Randall Woods, center, offer their thanks to Korean War veteran Robert Jackson at the Veteran’s Day Appreciation breakfast hosted at S-C Wednesday morning. The military service men and women were described as heroes by keynote speaker state Rep. Nathan Beard, R-Sedalia. Beard told the audience the real heroes walk around us every day and go unnoticed; the real heroes are our veterans.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_tsd111215scveterans21.jpgCadet Col. and Battalion Cmdr. Hollee Akers, left, and Cmdr. Sgt. Major Randall Woods, center, offer their thanks to Korean War veteran Robert Jackson at the Veteran’s Day Appreciation breakfast hosted at S-C Wednesday morning. The military service men and women were described as heroes by keynote speaker state Rep. Nathan Beard, R-Sedalia. Beard told the audience the real heroes walk around us every day and go unnoticed; the real heroes are our veterans.

Members of the VFW Post 2591 raise their rifles as part of a 21-gun salute outside the S-C gymnasium. As part of a military tradition of firing three rifle shots across a grave site, the 21-gun salute consists of seven riflemen firing three volleys to make the 21 gun salute, Lt. Col Harry Cunningham said during the assembly. The 21-gun salute was followed by the playing of Taps.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_tsd111215s-c-veterans31.jpgMembers of the VFW Post 2591 raise their rifles as part of a 21-gun salute outside the S-C gymnasium. As part of a military tradition of firing three rifle shots across a grave site, the 21-gun salute consists of seven riflemen firing three volleys to make the 21 gun salute, Lt. Col Harry Cunningham said during the assembly. The 21-gun salute was followed by the playing of Taps.

Members of the Smith-Cotton student body wave American flags as members of the armed forces and veterans are escorted to their seats during the Veteran’s Day assembly at S-C Wednesday morning. Students were given the flags during their seminar class. Senior Mason Johnson brought the large American flag to the assembly. He explained he did not have a seminar class but was proud of the veterans and their service to others.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_tsd111215scveterans4.1.jpgMembers of the Smith-Cotton student body wave American flags as members of the armed forces and veterans are escorted to their seats during the Veteran’s Day assembly at S-C Wednesday morning. Students were given the flags during their seminar class. Senior Mason Johnson brought the large American flag to the assembly. He explained he did not have a seminar class but was proud of the veterans and their service to others.

Cadet Col. and Battalion Cmdr. Hollee Akers of the S-C JROTC cuts a lemon as part of the POW/MIA tribute during the Smith-Cotton Veterans Day assembly Wednesday morning. Lt. Col. Harry Cunningham said the lemon was a symbol of the bitter fate of the POW’s and MIA members of the military if they were not brought home. JROTC cadets placed a hat representing each of the service branches on a table set in remembrance of those who had not returned from their military service.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_tsd111215scveterans51.jpgCadet Col. and Battalion Cmdr. Hollee Akers of the S-C JROTC cuts a lemon as part of the POW/MIA tribute during the Smith-Cotton Veterans Day assembly Wednesday morning. Lt. Col. Harry Cunningham said the lemon was a symbol of the bitter fate of the POW’s and MIA members of the military if they were not brought home. JROTC cadets placed a hat representing each of the service branches on a table set in remembrance of those who had not returned from their military service.

The words “thank you” are all too often forgotten or not said. Smith-Cotton High School gave those two small words significance and meaning as they were spoken countless times during a Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday morning in gratitude and tribute to the men and women who have served the United States as members of the armed forces.

“I know that ‘thank you’ sometimes doesn’t hold the meaning that it should, but we hope today that you realize how big our thank you is to you and your families,” S-C Principal Wade Norton said in his opening remarks. “We are honored to host this ceremony as part of our community’s effort to honor our veterans.”

More than 250 veterans and family members attended the morning ceremony that paid tribute to the living and fallen area service men and women.

As part of the ceremony, Lt. Col. Harry Cunningham and members of the JROTC program paid tribute to the POW and MIA service members.

“You may have noticed the table set before you,” Cunningham said as the lights were dimmed in the gymnasium. “It is filled with symbolism.

“It is set for our prisoners of war and those missing in action from all wars,” Cunningham continued. “They are not with us today; the chair is empty, saved for their hoped return. Let us remember their absence.”

Four JROTC cadets then individually placed a hat from each service branch on the table.

Cunningham described what each of the items on the table represented.

Cadet Hollee Akers used a salt shaker to slowly pour salt onto a plate, representative of the family’s tears as they waited and remembered their loved one. Akers also cut a lemon as a symbol of the bitter fate of those missing in action unless a MIA soldier is returned home.

The final image Cunningham described was a faded picture on the table.

“The faded picture is a reminder that they are missed very much and are remembered by their families,” Cunningham explained. “As we look upon this empty table, do not remember ghosts from the past, remember our comrades.”

In his remarks, keynote speaker state Rep. Nathan Beard, R-Sedalia, also urged those in attendance, especially the student body, to remember and thank those who are in service to their country.

“Everyone loves a hero,” Beard said. “So I want you all to close your eyes if only for a few moments and picture the image of a hero.”

Beard told the audience that for some, a hero might be an athlete or someone they see in the movies.

“Now, open your eyes,” Beard said. “The real heroes walk around us every day and they go unnoticed; the real heroes are our veterans.

“We pass by them every day on the street and don’t realize their presence in front of us,” he continued. “They are truly heroes as a result of what they were willing to do for others.”

Beard explained that because the men and women of the military answered the call for duty, Americans now have the opportunity to live a life of freedom and choice.

“There are over 550,000 veterans in Missouri and more than 25 million in the United States,” Beard said. “Today is a day we should pay tribute to these men and women.

“It is a day to remember our true heroes, but not just today on Veterans Day,” he added. “It all starts with the understanding that they are right here in front of us and that we need to treat them with the respect they have earned, not only today but each and every day.”

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484

Sedalia Democrat

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484

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