FOREST CITY | “Country first. Mission first. Comrades first.”
That’s how Marvin S. Carr, 8th District Commander of the American Legion of Iowa, described the mentality of veterans Monday, Nov. 6, during the Veterans Day program in the Forest City High School gymnasium.
“How else could you describe the motives of someone who undergoes rigorous training, submits themselves to demanding superiors and uproots their lives for minimal pay and long hours?” he said to the students, staff and community members at the morning assembly.
Carr, a U.S. Navy veteran who served from 1996 to 2004, was the speaker for the school’s annual program that pays tribute to the American men and women who’ve served in the armed forces and remembers those who’ve died.
He spoke about the importance of expressing appreciation and supporting veterans — like those who served during the Vietnam War when “gratitude was in short supply among many segments of the American public” — through local, regional and national actions.
“When we hear about our high national debt, we should not minimize it but we need to remember a higher debt, the one that we owe those who’ve given us so much,” Carr said. “We need to remember that to them war is not a mere history lesson, or a segment of a book. To them, the battles continue even after the firing stops and the return home is complete. We need to remember veterans benefits are at constant war and a necessary part of a strong, national defense. We need to remember the sacrifices made, the lives lost and the lost family time.
“We need to remember that Veterans Day is also Freedoms Day. Veterans put us first, and today, we put veterans first.”
Carr said Veterans Day is a time to honor “all the outstanding men and women who’ve served in our nation’s armed forces since our founding more than 241 years ago.”
“Peacetime or wartime, all veterans have taken an oath indicating that they were willing to offer their lives to defend our constitution and country,” he said.
Throughout the program, the Forest City High School concert band and concert choir performed songs, like “The Pacific,” “The Stars and Stripes Forever” March, “Inscription of Hope,” and the “Armed Forces Salute.”
During the “Armed Forces Salute,” veterans of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy stood as the song for their respective military branch were played. They were greeted with applause from others in attendance.
Taps was then performed by high-school trumpet players Jaden Alamysa and Ethan Torkelson. The colors were retired by American Legion Post 121.
Superintendent Darwin Lehmann concluded the program by recognizing the veterans and their spouses in the audience. The gymnasium roared with applause as men and women stood, some whose eyes filled with tears as they looked around. Students, staff and family members who have or had a family member in the military were also acknowledged with applause.
“As you can see the military has a large impact on our community, and we’re very grateful for everything,” he said.