|The American Legion presents the flags.|
San Rafael Junior High presented its 31st annual Veteran's Day program on Nov. 10. The American Legion presented the flags and the congregation recited the pledge of allegiance followed by the choir singing the National Anthem.
The emcee for the event was Randy Johnson. He said for more than two centuries proud patriots have been fighting for freedom from the opening battle of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Korea, World War I, World War II, Desert Storm to Iraq and other wars. These men and women didn't set out to be heroes. They had families they left behind when they went to war. We can never measure what they gave. We are grateful for the sacrifice they made. Some of them made the ultimate sacrifice and died in battle. Others came back to live full and productive lives.
Johnson told the stories of some outstanding soldiers from each war. He began with a drummer boy in the Civil War. This drummer boy played the drums which set the pace for marches and cheered the men. The drums were heavy and almost too much to pack for the young boy. Many of these young drummer boys died in battle alongside the soldiers.
One man became a legend in his World War II Japanese unit. He received honors as he skillfully directed his unit. He and his unit subdued the enemy and he threw grenades from a close range at the enemy machine guns at risk to himself. He was hit by a grenade which shattered his arm. He was made a captain and went on the receive a law degree and he became a congressman from Hawaii. He was the first congressman of Japanese decent to ever serve in Washington.
Johnson also described a young soldier who served in Vietnam and sustained numerous injuries. He received special forces training even after he had been injured and returned to Vietnam again. A crew on an intelligence mission was unable to get out of a serious situation in enemy territory. He went back to extract the team. He jumped into a clearing and ran under enemy fire to locate the downed and injured men. He carried and pulled the men to the safety of the helicopter when the helicopter went down. They radioed for another helicopter and he then carried and pulled the men to the new helicopter. After he had loaded all the men and made sure no one was left behind, he boarded the helicopter himself and collapsed. He awoke to a body bag being zipped around him. He survived his injuries and was awarded a medal of honor from Pres. Ronald Reagan.
Johnson also told the story of football player Pat Tillman who had a contract with the National Football League, but turned it down to enter the service with his brother. Tillman didn't view himself as a hero, just an American doing a job. He was on night duty in Iraq when his truck was hit and he died. He was described as answering his true calling by being a patriot and a true hero, much more so than if he had stayed home and played football.
American heroes are willing to sacrifice everything. American women and men take risks. We have an all volunteer army. This nation loves peace and we do not take it for granted. We have been and we will continue to bear its greatest cost. Every Veteran who has served has contributed and earned our gratitude. Their time in uniform has been a defining moment in their lives. They have been ready to fight and die in selfless consecration and sacrifice to their country. Our lives have been shaped by Veterans. Terrorists are enemies of the United States. We know difficulties lie ahead. The United States will persevere and prevail. We recognize our Veterans as our friends and neighbors. We are proud to be Americans. We appreciate the Veterans who have joined us here today, said Johnson.
Trevin Singleton played Taps afterwhich those present observed a moment of silence.
Members of the San Rafael studentbody introduced the Veterans present and told a little bit about their service. The choir sang God Bless America and the program ended with the retiring of the colors.