Want to know what Veteran’s Day is all about? Watch a soldier salute

If you want to know what Veteran’s Day means, watch a soldier salute.

Witness the arm. Crisp snap upward, precise elbow bend, right hand over right eyebrow.

Watch the hand. It won’t falter, no matter how wrinkled the skin, nor pronounced the veins. It will maintain a proud, perfect angle.

See the face. Chin up, muscles tight, solemn, sincere.

Admire the posture. Shoulders back, chest out, each well-trained vertebrae snapped into place directly above the other.

Wednesday, during an emotional tribute to veterans at Appleton North High School, we had the opportunity to witness the salutes and honor the veterans who have earned the right to make them.

They came from all branches of the military – some long retired, some still actively employed. They stood while the North Choir sang the National Anthem and then listened as they performed Flander’s Fields. If the veterans looked closely, they saw one of their own in the front row of the choir — Alyssa Gruender, a high school senior and proud member of the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

They heard the Honors Orchestra play a medley of Civil War songs and then, as the Honors Band played the Armed Forces Salute, members stood and the audience applauded through each military branch’s anthem.

Between musical numbers, North Drama Club members re-enacted letters from home, actual pieces of mail written by participants in wars ranging from the Civil War through the War in Iraq.

There was a moment of silence to honor the fallen, followed by Band Director Jim Thaldorf ‘s haunting rendition of Taps.

The presenting and retiring of the colors bookended the ceremony, hosted by North Principal James Huggins, a Marine Corps veteran of the Persian Gulf War.

If you want to know what Veteran’s Day means, watch a soldier salute. And, if you want to know what a high school student thinks Veteran’s Day means, watch an auditorium full of dignified students celebrate freedom and the honored guests among them.

Salute
If you want to know what Veteran’s Day is all about, watch a soldier salute.
Color guard
I love the respectful way the students are standing as the color guard passes.
Choir shot with Alyssa Gruender
Check out the proud soldier/alto in the front row of the North Choir.
Ben Wylie
Senior Ben Wylie reads a letter from a Korean War soldier.
Jack Russell
Jack Russell read a letter from the Vietnam War. Kudos also to Maddie Cuff and Kammy Veith for the moving power point presentation.
Jacoe
Jacie Jones read a letter from a soldier in the War in Iraq.
Jaya
Jaya Mallela read a letter from a mother of a Vietnam War soldier.
Josiah Dempsey
Josiah Dempsey also read a letter from a soldier in the Vietnam War.
Mike Bray
Mike Bray read a letter from a soldier in World War I.
Molly
Molly read a letter from a nurse in World War II.
Rachel
Rachel Charniak read a letter from Clara Barton during the Civil War.
Mr . Huggins
Appleton North Principal James Huggins hosted the ceremony. He also served in the Marine Corps during the Gulf War.
Soldier
North recognized its alumni who served in the military during the ceremony, and in a display on a wall in the school.
Color guard dismissed
The whole ceremony celebrated respect for the flag, for the country and for the veterans who fought to protect them.

Here is what happened in the auditorium when the band played Armed Forces Salute:

And here’s the North choir singing Flander’s Fields (with apologies for the poor video quality):

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