On Friday, Nov. 8, Trenton School held a veterans reception and program honoring local veterans from the area and giving special recognition to those who served in the Vietnam War.

The school’s gymnasium was filled with students dressed in red, white and blue as servicemen and women from every branch of the military entered the gym to rounds of applause and thunderous thanks. The veterans were a varied group, having served in conflicts across the globe as far back as WWII, but were all joined together for the afternoon in a celebration of remembrance and thanks, recognizing those who fought and came home, and honoring those who were not as fortunate.

The crowd was led through the Pledge of Allegiance by the school’s first graders, before English teacher and Marine Corps veteran Jody Blackaby introduced the veterans in attendance, playing the service songs for each of the branches they represented.

Melissa Drakeford, Navy veteran and fourth grade teacher, took to the podium next, reading the preamble to the United States Constitution. She then shared the importance of recognizing those who have served and continue to serve our country all around the world.

“It is our men and women that actually risk their lives for our country,” she told those in assembly. “In order to have that tranquility, in order to have that peace, to provide safety and order, it is these men and women who risk their lives every day, day in and day out. We owe them honor every day, in every way we can. So I would say to you, I would admonish to you, everyone, when you see a veteran, thank them.”

The school’s band and choir performed “America the Beautiful,” before Blackaby gave thanks to Grant Carns and Kayla Falcon for their work with the Williams County Veterans Services, as well as acknowledging the work done by the employees at the local veterans clinic.

“You are diligent to us, and committed to us, and we appreciate it.” Blackaby said.

Each year, the Trenton School picks a focus for their Veterans Day celebration, and this year’s focus was on those who served in the Vietnam War.

After a history of the conflict by high school junior Mikey Petersen, those in attendance who served in the conflict were recognized, with several sharing their stories and memories of the war.

A special tribute was given to Trenton native Ralph McCowan, who was killed in action during the war.

McCowan’s family was in attendance, with brother Gene, a fellow veteran, sharing his brother’s story.

The celebration concluded as the school’s first and second graders presented the veterans with hand-made thank you cards, hugs and “kisses” — small bags of Hershey’s Kisses with a message of thanks.

Michelle Nelson’s kindergarten class then lead the audience through the Star Spangled Banner.

The ceremony concluded, many in attendance approached the veterans in the gym and in the hallways, shaking hands, offering hugs, and giving thanks and praise for their service.

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