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Student reflections on the annual Veteran’s Day Breakfast

SUN photo/Randi Pierce
Pagosa veterans Warren Grams, left, and Ernie Garcia are greeted by several of the eighth-grade students from Pagosa Springs Junior High School who hosted the annual Veterans Day breakfast at the community center. Four of the students share their thoughts about the experience in this week’s SUN.

Each year, members of Scott White’s eighth-grade history class hosts local veterans at a Veteran’s Day Breakfast. The event allows the students to meet veterans, listen to stories, ask questions and deepen their knowledge of the value of service to country.

Students are asked to reflect on what the experience means to them. Here are four responses received following this year’s breakfast on Nov. 12 at the Ross Aragon Community Center.

Dalton Lucero

Every year on November 11 we honor all the veterans that served our country by serving them breakfast. This is a special holiday, because they have risked their lives to give us freedom. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to experience many freedoms that we do today in America.

I interviewed a veteran named Regg. He was in the Army, and served in Korea in the Korean War. He was a soldier going into battle. Regg told me many stories about his time in the Army, but my favorite was about when he barely escaped death. He was in the jungle fighting when the Koreans took over. They had to retreat and try to escape. Bombs were blowing up all around him, and he barely escaped. All those bombs have made him lose most of his hearing.

Hearing all of their stories has made me appreciate and respect veterans a lot more. It makes me sit up straighter when I’m in class and not just when I’m around a veteran or someone I respect greatly. It allows me to get a glimpse of how much they have to go through to let us be free and allow us to live the way we do. Until meeting the veterans, I never really understood how much they had to endure. Until then, I always thought of a veteran as someone fighting for our country, but it’s so much more than that. Veterans are all the soldiers, mechanics, cooks and so much more. A veteran is anyone who has served our country. Many veterans come back from the war a different person. They are scarred physically and emotionally from watching so many other people die.

Before the veteran’s breakfast, we were studying the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Before we studied them, I never knew how closely related they were to what veterans do. Veterans fight for our freedoms that are printed on those pieces of paper. Without veterans fighting for things like freedom of speech, religion, and press and the right to bear arms, those things would mean nothing. In today’s society, we look upon athletes and singers and people like that to be the heroes of today when really the real heroes are the veterans that are actually risking their lives to save our freedoms. Veterans Day is so important, because it’s a way to recognize the true heroes of our community. So many of us have veterans right in our families and don’t even stop to ask them about their service.

I love the veteran’s breakfast and hope it continues on for many years to come. It is a great way for kids to meet amazing men and women that have served our country. I hope that it continues to get better and better over the years.

Hayley Mitchell

Here is my opinion on the Veteran’s Day Breakfast that all eighth-graders held for the courageous men and women in the military.

Throughout fourth grade to seventh grade in history class, we read in textbooks and talk. However, we never get to experience history as if we were actually there. On November 12, I experienced history as if it were living with me.

As I began walking around the beautifully decorated community center, I searched the area for a lone veteran. About a couple meters away, I spotted an older fellow with a genuine smile. I walked over with an authentic smile of my own. However, using my normal introduction routine would not suffice this time. The reason being is because his ear was ruptured. So, whenever I would speak, I’d lean in and gently talk to this man directly in the ear. Listening to his responses taught me that he was in the Air Force branch, served in Germany in World War Two, and was an airplane pilot. As I continued to listen, he began a story. This story was way back when he served as a brave pilot. There was an attack, airplanes flying everywhere, when it happened … a sudden explosion very close to where this young man stood. This explosion was the very cause of why his ear was ruptured.

That story very quickly opened my eyes and touched my heart. The veteran told/showed me that serving isn’t heaven, by any means, when one enters the military. When entering, one knows they could possibly die. However, they do it anyway for their friends, family, and most importantly, their country. When Mr. White began teaching us about civic virtue and the constitution, I realized that all veterans, no matter who they are, share a virtuous attitude. While watching their posture, and the way they look you directly in the eye, it’s easy to tell that veterans have a massive amount of self discipline. Not to mention, their inspiring sixth sense to sacrifice themselves for whomever needs saving. To sum it all up, the Veterans Day Breakfast helped me gain a massive amount of respect and inspiration towards all veterans.

Honoring all the veterans is so very important. Every one of those virtuous men and women deserve a breakfast held in their honor. Firstly, they sacrificed themselves for our freedom. Our freedom is incredibly important because it is what makes us the United States of America. Freedom is what develops our character. Looking back at the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Amendment 1 is freedom of religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly. Our soldiers have kept these freedoms safe; because if not careful, we could lose our freedom. Secondly, all veterans and soldiers are the perfect example of civic virtue. Civic virtue means doing things for the common welfare (good of others). Soldiers continue to sacrifice themselves for us. That’s why we should give back, however big or small, a proportion of what they gave us.

Thinking back to this inspiring breakfast brings back fresh waves of admiration and respect. An image of courageous men and women fighting for our freedom immediately pops up whenever I think of the words soldier or veteran now. And most importantly, I’ll never forget the time I got to experience history through the smile of a true veteran and hero.

Mckenna Moore

On the Monday after Veteran’s Day, my classmates and I held the 12th annual Veteran’s Day Breakfast. Everyone chipped in. Some brought already cooked bacon, sausage, and muffins. Others brought chopped fruit, and some brought eggs for the wonderful volunteers to cook. With everyone’s help and hard work, I think I can clearly say that everyone that attended had a memorable experience.

I had an ecstatic time! I got to talk to three World War II veterans and many others! I think my favorite World War II story was told by a great guy named Bob. I believe Bob said he was in the Navy for two years. When he joined he was 17. He joined before he could be drafted so he could choose which branch to serve with. Bob and his beautiful wife had a lot of cool stories. My favorite one was the story of when Bob and his fellow soldiers got the news that the war was over. “The head soldier came on the PAC and everything went quiet,” he explained.

“Then he said, ‘Boys, it’s over,’ and everything seemed to go quiet for a long time, although it was probably just a few minutes.” As he said this a smile worked its way across his face. “Finally, everyone started hooting and hollering!” Everyone listening to this awesome story said, “wow!” in unison. We were all clearly moved. Bob told us more stories that amazed everyone, but this one stuck with me, and it makes me smile every time I think about it.

After the breakfast, I found out that I had a totally new respect for our veterans. I have always had appreciation for veterans, but that turned more to respect and grew even more after I sat down with them and heard their tales. I talked to people who had their whole family in some part of the military: him, his mom, his dad, his sister, and his son! They were all in the military. There were also a lot of people that told me that their fathers had been in the war and were sadly declared KIA. I can’t even imagine the pain of having to go through that. The breakfast definitely gave me a new, greater respect for our veterans and soldiers alike. I salute them; they are the true, absolute heroes of America.

This year in my history class, we started the year off looking at the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I think these two very important documents go well with veterans. After all, they are fighting to keep America free, and to protect these documents. Also, the Constitution describes how the government cannot become too powerful. In other words, it describes how we the people have the right to be free. Soldiers also keep us free. The Bill of Rights explains laws that the people and the government can’t break. Now, our soldiers don’t do this, but they do fight to protect The Bill of Rights. If you look close enough, you can see that pretty much everything about America could all disappear if we didn’t have our wonderful veterans fighting to protect it.

I was very happy after the breakfast. I couldn’t wait to share all of my new found respect and tales to anyone who would listen. I could have probably talked anyone’s ear off, telling them about all of the amazing stuff people just like us have done to protect our freedom! So to finish off this long essay, I would like to say thank you to all of the people who are fighting or fought for this amazing country we live in. We respect you!

Addie Thompson

Every year we set aside a day to honor veterans. Mostly, people don’t acknowledge how important this holiday is. They may say, “Thank you,” to a passing veteran, but never really more than that. This year I was able to really talk and appreciate these heroic people.

Mr. Lowe was one veteran who I talked to for a long time at the breakfast. He served in the Air Force. He served as a pilot in many different places including South and Central America. He was at the veteran’s breakfast with his brother who also served in the Air Force. He handed me a photo, and on it were two young men in uniform, their arms hung over each other’s shoulders. On each face was plastered a smile. He told me that it was a photo of him and his brother. I looked up and looked at their faces; though time had taken its toll on both of them, one thing never changed and that was their smiles. Although both brothers were in the Air Force they rarely ever saw each other. When they were able to see each other it was for short times. They took the photo on one of those rare occasions that they saw each other.

This story really made me think about sacrifices. They made so many when they joined the military. In this example, two brothers both agreed to leave their family and each other. They knew that they may never see each other again, but they still willingly joined the military in order to protect our country. This really meant a lot to me because I’m close to my brothers and just imagining leaving them really helps me to understand the sacrifices. I’m so grateful for their willingness to leave everything and serve. I think it probably helped them to know that they were fighting to protect our freedom for generations to come. Another man that I talked to asked, “What does freedom mean to you?” I replied by quoting my freedom quote. The man looked me in the eyes and said, “I fought for that, I risked my life, I killed for your freedom.”

During the breakfast I was thanked numerous times for putting on this breakfast. You could tell that this really was important to these men and women. This breakfast is also beneficial to eighth graders. It really helps us to understand the importance of veterans. I hope this program is continued for many years to come.

This story was posted on January 3, 2013.