Crothersville students recognize veterans


Speaking during Friday’s Veterans Day program at Crothersville Community Schools, Caitlin Meade had an opportunity to pay tribute to people close to her heart.

An uncle served in the Army with a special forces unit called the Green Beret.

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One grandpa served in the Navy for 23 years, installing missile testing all over the world for Navy bases and ships and retiring as a senior chief.

Another grandpa served in the Army for eight years at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division and then went on to West Point, New York, where he was an OR technician.

“It is our duty as individuals to remember, acknowledge and honor the men and women and their sacrifices and dedication they make to serve our country,” said Meade, president of the school’s History Club.

“We watch TV and movies that illustrate superheroes, but these fictional characters couldn’t be compared to the brave men and women who risked their lives for everyone in this room,” she said.

Jacob Payne, a social studies teacher at the school and adviser of the History Club, said it’s important for students of all ages to understand the importance of Veterans Day.

“As veterans, we always need to honor them — 24/7, 365, every single day,” he said. “Veterans don’t deserve just one particular day for them. They need to be celebrated every single day.”

During the program, Payne told the veterans, community members, students and staff in attendance that growing up, Veterans Day was one of his family’s most important holidays.

With a long line of family members who served in the Marine Corps and Air Force, Payne said they gathered at his mother’s house every Veterans Day to enjoy a meal and listen to military stories.

Now in his first year at the school, he tasked the History Club with organizing the Veterans Day program.

“I felt that the History Club really needed to see the personal, firsthand experience or the primary source of the matter of what it means to be a veteran or what it means to be involved in war itself,” he said. “By them celebrating and honoring those brave men and women and what they’ve done and what they’ve sacrificed, it allows them to see through the veterans’ point of view.”

As the students set up the program, Payne said he told them to think about their family members who have served or currently are serving.

Throughout the program, the veterans’ pictures and messages about them were projected on a wall in the gymnasium.

“As long as students are going home and asking what exactly their experiences were of somebody in their family who is a veteran and trying to visualize what they experienced through their own eyes is something that’s extremely important,” Payne said.

The program also included a presentation of the colors by Boy Scout Troop 522, singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Boy Scouts showing the proper way to fold a flag and a performance by the elementary choir and students.

Then a microphone was passed around to the veterans to share their name, branch and years of service.

Everyone then sang “God Bless America” together before Meade read an essay, “Taps” was played and Pastor Troy Burns, who also is a veteran, offered a prayer for soldiers and families.

Nicholas Bryant was among the veterans in attendance. He is in his ninth year of serving with the Indiana Army National Guard.

Dressed in uniform, he made the trip from south of Indianapolis to be a part of the program.

“Family means everything to me, and they asked me to come, so I made it,” said Bryant, who has a cousin who works at the school and her two kids are students there.

He appreciated the effort everyone put into the program.

“It’s very special. It’s nice to see the kids notice what it means,” Bryant said. “I honestly take it off of myself because I feel like I haven’t done much. I try to put it off on the World War II vets and the Vietnam vets, who in my opinion did way more than I could ever imagine going through.”

Payne was proud of the work the students put into making it a great Veterans Day tribute.

“We have a great group over here at Crothersville,” he said. “Obviously, you can see the student engagement is extremely high. We may be a small community, but we’re proud to be Tigers.”