TENNERTON – Buckhannon-Upshur High School students on Thursday presented their first-ever Veteran’s Day Celebration.
The inaugural event included recognizing Upshur County School employees who are veterans, paying tribute to veterans attending the ceremony, introducing the new B-UHS Military Club and dedicating the Military Wall of Honor to celebrate B-UHS graduates who enlisted in the military.
Military Club Advisor Cheryl Cain welcomed celebration attendees and thanked veterans for their military service.
“This afternoon marks a long-awaited very first Veteran’s Day Celebration at B-UHS,” Cain said. “This ceremony was made possible by our administration, lots of teachers and students and volunteers from the American Legion, the VFW and of course, our inside advantage, Sgt. Cottrill.”
Cain said the B-UHS Military Club members had been working since the beginning of the school year to come up ideas for the ceremony, the purpose of which was to celebrate those who were courageous enough to put their lives at risk to defend freedoms enjoyed in the U.S.
The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Lt. Col. Jeff Perkins, who graduated from B-UHS. Perkins enlisted in the West Virginia Army National Guard in 1980 and has 38 years of service. He had six tours of duty.
“I am honored to be speaking to you on such an important occasion,” Perkins said. “We are here today to honor our service members and to remember their sacrifices – the sacrifices they made and the courage it takes to defend, duty, honor, country. We are here today to honor our heroes, to remember their courage, their achievements, their dedication and to say thank you for your sacrifices.”
Perkins asked Veterans in attendance, if they could, to stand.
“Thank you for answering the call to duty,” he said. “You have made our Armed Forces the most respected in the world.”
He then asked those who are family members of the military to stand.
“We know you have lived through difficult times,” Perkins said. “And often, you have taken on a heavy load to keep the home fire burning. Thank you for what you have done.”
He said service members today come from all walks of life.
“But they share several fundamental qualities,” Perkins said. “They possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity – all the qualities need to serve in a cause larger than oneself.”
Perkins said West Virginians and Upshur County residents have a proud and unique veteran heritage.
“Currently there are more than 28 million veterans in the U.S. which is about 6 percent of the population,” he said. “West Virginia has more than 160,000 Veterans which about 8.8 percent of the population of the state. Upshur County has 2,000 Veterans – nearly 9 percent of the population. That is 50 percent greater than the national average. Upshur County serves our country.”
Cain and the Military Club presented a plaque to B-UHS Principal Eddie Vincent, dedicating the Military Wall to honor graduates who enlist in the armed services.
“The vision for this space is to display recently enlisted grads’ military photos that include their year of graduation and the branch of service they choose to join,” Cain said, while presenting the plaque to Vincent. “The Military Club members will be collecting data to post in this area. We will begin to list previous B-U graduates who enlisted in the military and are seeking your ongoing input for this project.”
American Legion Post 7 member Bob Post shared some remarks. Post helped ensure that patriotism was included in the school system curriculum for grades 1 to 12.
“As veterans, we believe by learning at an early age about patriotism, Americanism and love of country, it is our hope that over a long period … that future generations will once again look at what is truly important for the priorities of our country,” Post said. “Our veterans have sacrificed their lives and given their service to keep our country free.”
“We hope and pray that the young leaders of the future – that is you – will see that the amount of money raised for political campaigns is not the answer,” Post continued. “We have to look for patriotism, Americanism and love of country for the answers. I give the following advice for life – love and serve our God, love and serve our country. Love and serve our families throughout your life.”