A warrior and Branson Junior High honors its Veterans

Wounded combat Veteran, U.S. Marine
Sgt. Jason Arellano, speaking at Veterans
assembly on Nov. 10.

In a town where there were all sorts of Veteran’s ceremonies and remembrances this week, one of the most special took place at the November Citizenship Character Assembly of the Branson Junior High School on Nov. 10. Its specialness wasn’t in the appearance of famous people, entertainers, or dignitaries, it was in the quiet dignified sincere way that the school, administration and students honored the Veterans personally related to their students and in the simple heartfelt speech of a warrior.

The Veterans were invited to sit in a special seating section on the floor level of the gym where they were joined by their student, son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, niece or nephew. Brad Dolloff started the assembly by sharing a bit the history of World War II involving the heroic action of the Army Rangers at Point du Hoc during the Battle of Normandy. The Rangers scaled steep cliffs in the face of overwhelming enemy fire to gain a vital foothold and force the enemy artillery back from its permanent emplacements where it would have been able to place withering fire directly down on the off leading ships and their fellow soldiers fighting their way ashore.

Local Veteran Charlie Engram read the names of the 40 some veterans, representing just about every branch of the service and conflict from the Second World War to the current War on Terrorism. In his introduction Engram called all the Veterans sitting in front of him “Heros. He acknowledged, “There are some of you that will say not me” and went on to say that’s not true because “You are heroes.” Engram stressed that as a as a nation we enjoy the freedoms we have today because of the service and sacrifice of our Veterans.

As Engram read the names of the 40 plus Veterans present each stood until all had been acknowledged. With all the Veterans standing, the assembly gave a standing ovation.

The Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps color guard made up of Ashley Powers, Lindsey Rainey, Alexis Rabe and Chelsea Collins smartly presented the colors. Jared Campbell lead the “Pledge of Allegiance” followed by the National Anthem sung by Kris Spencer.

The guest speaker, U.S Marine Sergeant Jason Arellano was introduced through a video clip. The clip showed him being carried off the field of battle after receiving serious injuries in a fire fight in Fallujah, Iraq when there was serious doubt as to whether or not he would survive.

As he started his presentation Arellano asked two questions, “When you look at our flag what do you see and feel? When you hear our National Anthem what do you hear and what does that mean to you?”

Rather than talk about himself extensively, Arellano brought the sacrifice of Veterans home by simply reading the citations of two posthumously awarded Navy Crosses of fellow Marines. One gave his life in the jungles of Vietnam and the other, Arellano’s friend, in Fallujah on the same day Arellano was severely injured. He summed it up by saying that’s what our military does; perform heroic and amazing deeds in the face of great danger.

Arellano suggested when we look at our flag and hear our national Anthem that what we should see, feel, and hear is respect for what they represent, our country, people, freedom, way of life and the price that is being paid, and has been paid, on their behalf. A price paid in blood, sacrifice, and pain by America’s active duty military and Veterans, a price that never should be taken for granted.

The last advice Arellano gave the students was “Live your life for those that can’t.” After thanking the assembly, the humble combat tested warrior left the podium to a standing ovation.

Furnished Courtesy of the Branson Daily Independent.

About Gary Groman aka The Ole Seagull

Editor of The Branson Courier
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