Casey Howard told Whitesville Elementary School students on Thursday to surround themselves with good leaders and to work hard, try hard and inspire others.
Howard, a retired sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps, spoke to students during the WES Veterans Day program in the school’s gym, which followed a parade in front of the school.
Howard, a lieutenant with the Henderson Fire Department, described to students what a veteran is and what it means to be a patriot. He said students could thank veterans in a variety of ways.
“You can thank them through your words, through your actions and by respecting the flag,” he said.
Another important way to thank a veteran, he said, is to become the best version of yourself.
U.S. citizens can do anything they want and become whomever they wish to be, thanks to veterans who served to protect that freedom, Howard said.
Individuals who serve in the U.S. military are not only impacting life in this country, but in other countries as well, he said.
“Service people answer the call for freedoms all around the world, so the billions of people in this country, and around the world, can live better lives,” he said.
Blake Huff, a Whitesville fifth-grader, said he was thankful to Howard for coming to speak with his classmates. He said he and his peers believe veterans are some of the bravest people in the world.
“We look up to you, and we thank you,” he said.
One thing Howard touched on in his speech, which Principal Tricia Murphy wanted students to remember, is that things aren’t perfect. The world certainly is not a perfect place right now, especially, and it’s been difficult for students, their families and educators.
But Howard used a word, Murphy said, that she wanted everyone to keep in their hearts: hope.
The Veterans Day program marked the first time in nearly two years that all Whitesville students have been in the gym at a single time, “as a family,” she said.
“The last two years haven’t been perfect, but the whole time, we stayed true to everything (Howard) said,” Murphy said. “We stayed true to our mission, and we stayed true to our plan to provide family, leadership and excellence.
“I have to say it feels really, really good to all be in here together.”
Bobbie Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7315