Veterans honored at Western Brown

Veterans of military service were the center of attention at Western Brown High School on Veteran’s Day, November 11.
The school’s FFA and JROTC programs combined to put on a program of celebration and respect for local veterans and their families.
About 100 veterans and family members attended the ceremony along with Western Brown students and staff.
The ceremony included the posting of the colors by the Western Brown JROTC and singing performances by the Western Brown choir.
Western Brown Superintendent Raegan White also spoke at the ceremony, talking to those assembled about one of the hardest jobs in the military…that of the officers who must notify family members when a service member has been killed in action.
He revealed that his brother-in-law had to fulfill that duty while in the Army.
Following the reading of a proclamation on Veteran’s Day from President Barack Obama. the choir performed “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and then sang each of the service themes.
Veterans of those services stood up during the performance of their anthem, many of them saluting the flag.
Next to speak was United States Marine Corps Veteran and Mt. Orab Police Officer Reggie McKenzie.
McKenzie serves as a resource officer for the high school and received a long ovation as he walked to the podium.
“Many heroes are joining us today,” McKenzie told the crowd, “and many of them are here only in spirit.”
He then asked assembled veterans to stand and receive applause and then did something that happens more rarely at Veteran’s Day ceremonies.
“I’d like to have the family members of any service member to please stand,” McKenzie said.
As members of the audience began to rise from their seats, several high school students got to their feet as well.
Looking around the gymnasium it was clear that many students had family members that are veterans or currently serving in the armed forces.
McKenzie then told the students about growing up in Ripley and seeing World War II veterans around town serving as farmers,  teachers or bus drivers.
He said that people like that inspired him to serve his country.
“To a skinny red-headed bespectacled bookworm, they were larger than life,” McKenzie said.
State Representative Doug Green then sang “God Bless the USA” while local service members pictures were shown to the assembly.
Western Brown Athletic Director Tim Cook also spoke briefly, telling the assembly about the newly established Western Brown Veteran’s Wall of Honor.
Cook said that any veterans who have attended the Western Brown school system or who are employees are invited to participate by submitting an 8X10 picture and ten dollars to cover the cost of the frame.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9772 presented Cook with a $500 check to help cover the cost of the display.
Following the ceremony, Western Brown FFA President Samuel Gibson said “It makes me feel really good to see all the veterans here and think about everything they have done for this country.”
FFA Reporter Katie Durbin agreed.
“I think it’s really eye opening to see how many local people are veterans or have veterans in their families.  I think it’s really good that everyone comes out and supports them.
White said that he was  proud of the way that the students paid close attention to the ceremony.
“You can see that there is a lot of pride in the community and a lot of respect for the people that have served from Mt. Orab and across the country.  I’m proud that our students take that very seriously,” White said.
He said that it is also an emotional feeling to know that some of the students would be in uniform themselves in a year or two.
“I have the utmost respect for any of our students that choose to go to the military.  Knowing that they will be defending our county and that they are willing to make that commitment is very humbling for me,” White said.
Army Vietnam Veteran Bill Cornetet said he enjoyed the ceremony as well.
“It makes me feel proud to be a veteran.  It really pleases me to see that the school takes the time to recognize veterans and it gives the students the chance to learn what being an American is all about.”