Veterans Day 2017

Veterans honored across the district
Posted on 11/14/2017

Poplar Bluff students had the privilege of learning firsthand about the meaning of Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 10, as servicemen and women were honored across campus. 

A 20-year tradition of the Middle School—formerly the 5th & 6th Grade Center—the annual Veterans Day Assembly featured keynote speakers Sgt. Haley Cronk and Sgt. 1st Class James Stafford of the U.S. Army National Guard.

When Cronk was just 17 years old, she enlisted in the Army, and was deployed to Afghanistan the following year. 

“The Army taught me what it means to be a leader,” Cronk said to the student body. She described in one word a common thread of the 20 million plus living veterans who were driven to serve their country. “To be selfless means that we are bigger than ourselves and we will always put others above ourselves,” she said. 

Stafford pointed out that it was particularly meaningful for him to return to E.T. Peters Gym where he graduated in 1994 before heading to the St. Louis Military Entrance Processing Station. He discussed the significance of the Constitution, stating the doctrine is what makes America “special from all other countries in the world,” and then spoke about the flag. 

“The flag isn’t just a piece of cloth and stitching, it represents our freedom,” Stafford said. “It’s not the government’s flag, it’s the people’s flag. When the days are long and the nights are cold and the battle’s tough, that’s what helps us push through.” 

Veterans in attendance from all branches of the military were honored with a ceremony organized by the counseling department that included the posting of colors by the High School JROTC and a special musical performance by the Wind Ensemble. 

At O’Neal, elementary students were encouraged to invite veterans if they had family members in the military. The keynote of the annual assembly was John Holland, a Vietnam War vet, who spent 21 years of his career in the U.S. Navy. 

“[Veterans] write a blank check for their lives and have to defend their country,” Holland told the students, noting that the last veteran of WWI died several years ago. “This battle flag has flown through the Pacific to Europe,” he continued, as students were given small flags. 

Third graders Makandah Buchanan and Emma Worley read a poem together that ended with the stanza: “Though we may not know each name, we thank each vet the same.” 

O’Neal paraprofessional Annette Wells, the president of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Unit 153, organized the event for the second year. She concluded the program by informing students that they had never been surrounded by more heroes than they were on that day. She then directed her attention to the veterans. “Heroes, wave to your future.”


Cutline: Sgt. 1st Class James Stafford recites the Oath of Enlistment while Sgt. Haley Cronk looks on.

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