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Emery High honors veterans in assembly

Veteran Jeremy Tannahill tells the students about his military service. He is a Blackhawk pilot.

Emery High School hasn't hosted a veterans program in many years, but this year's student council decided in its first meeting of the school year to do something to honor veterans and raise consciousness among students and faculty about the important role they have played in American freedom.

Student Body President Spencer Fehlberg was instrumental in bringing the program together. In the end, it was a fitting tribute to veterans but also an informative program for Emery High students.

Emery senior and Miss Emery County, Elise DeBry, opened the program with Red Skelton's patriotic reflection of the Pledge of Allegiance. After the audience joined Elise in reciting the Pledge, she sang the fourth verse of the National Anthem. She said that she chose that verse as a special tribute to veterans.

The Emery High band then performed a patriotic number. Emery High Social Science Sterling Scholar Brooke Jensen then introduced Emery High alum Berni Davis as a guest speaker.

Lt. Davis, who graduated from Emery High in 2000, is a member of the US Army Reserve where she serves as a company commander out of Fort Douglas. She is a veteran and served with the NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia. Currently, Lt. Davis works for the Utah Division of Veteran Services in Salt Lake City.

In her comments to the students, Lt. Davis recalled her enlistment in the Army Reserve at the age of 17 after her junior year at Emery High. That was followed by Boot Camp at Fort Jackson, S.C., college at Southern Utah University where she earned a BS degree in political science, and deployment to Bosnia shortly after 9-11.

After returning from Bosnia, Lt. Davis enrolled at the University of Utah where she earned a MS degree in international studies while working at the Utah Veterans Administration.

She told the students that all of her post-high school education was paid for by the military, and that while she has been in the Army Reserve, she has been stationed in Germany, Italy, and South Korea. "Everything I've done while in the military has been a positive experience," she said, adding that her work with veterans has also been very meaningful.

Another guest speaker and graduate of Emery High School was Jeremy Tannahill, who is with the Utah Air National Guard as a helicopter pilot. He recalled his interest in becoming a "Top Gun" fighter pilot after high school but ended up flying choppers instead. He spent time in Iraq and Afganistan with the Guard.

Tannahill emphasized the importance of freedom and service to one's country. He used a slide presentation of his experiences to enhance his remarks, and he rewarded students answering questions with T-shirts and water bottles.

In closing, Tannahill thanked Todd Jeffs and Neal Peacock for their guidance while he was a student at EHS.

Following the speakers, the Emery High chorus, under the direction of David Bird and the accompaniment of Marilee Cox, presented a musical number that included narratives of appreciation by several members of the chorus. The tribute included remarks by Bird directed toward his father-in-law, Garth Childs, who was in the audience.

Bird thanked Childs for his service to our country and for his leadership in their family even as he is undergoing treatment for cancer.

Following the program, Principal Davis said, "This was a great tribute to veterans. The program gave our students some important things to think about. It is the type of program that I would like to see continued at Emery High School. Thanks to all those who contributed to its success."

Article courtesy of the Spartan Shield school newspaper.

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