by Geoff Fox
Each year, students at Hancock Middle-Senior High School hold their annual Veterans Day ceremony where students assemble in the auditorium listening to speakers talk about the sacrifices soldiers have made throughout history.
At 11 a.m. Monday morning, Principal Sabrina McCoy greeted those in attendance in the auditorium to the ceremony, including students and veterans. Four veterans sat on the stage.
“On Veterans Day we, as a proud nation, express our gratitude to all branches of military service,” McCoy said. “Although no ceremony or parade, hug or handshake is enough to truly honor that service.”
As students came in to the auditorium, pictures of family members of students, staff, and recent graduates were projected onto one of the walls of the auditorium and McCoy pointed out how many of those in attendance had friends and family committed to the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedoms.
“Being part of the military means risking everything. All of your hopes and dreams are put at risk for your country,” she said. “All your ambitions put on hold in order to do something to make your country stronger.”
Spencer Hose, President of the Student Government Association, read a welcome from the students to the veterans in attendance.
Hose said Veterans Day was a day to honor those who have served or are serving our country.
“These brave men and women have made untold sacrifices to preserve the way of life we enjoy in this great nation,” he said. “For that we are eternally grateful.”
Senior Class President Caitlynn Cubbage led everyone in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance and introduced the Hancock Panther Band to play the “Star Spangled Banner” followed by the playing of “Taps” and 11 tolls of the chimes.
Each branch of the military was recognized with the playing of each branch’s march by the band. They would later play “A Patriotic Salute” near the end of the program.
Assistant Principal Brad Delauter, who served in the United States Marine Corps, was the keynote speaker of the ceremony.
As the students and those in attendance celebrate Veterans Day, Delauter encourages them to think about their freedoms and their lifestyles they hold dear and enjoy.
“Each life uniquely different than the other, yet all have the freedom to seek their individuality in our great nation,” he said.
For that reason alone, Delauter said he chose to serve the country.
“In an age where disrespect of our nation’s greatest virtues has become popular fodder, I challenge you to look at our nation and see all that is right and all that is wrong, and realize you live in a nation that allows you to right all the wrongs and embrace everything that is right,” he said.
Delauter talked about his past, saying he joined the military in 1998 for those reasons and those reasons alone.
He said he wasn’t the best or well-behaved student in Washington County as he was excused from Grace Academy on disciplinary issues and Clear Spring High School. He eventually graduated in 1998 from Washington County Technical High School.
As he was talking about his past, Delauter got emotional and asked the students to forgive him.
“It was the greatest decision I ever made in my life,” Delauter said about joining the Marines. “It changed me, it molded me, and helped me become the successful father, educator, and American citizen that I am today.”
Delauter said he views his job as an educator as being in the military as it is a service to our nation.
Teachers who are veterans and those who aren’t are sacrificing everyday for the students so the nation becomes a better place.
“I encourage you if you know a veteran, if you’re related to a veteran, thank them,” Delauter said.
Delauter also encouraged the students to look at their own life to what they held dear and that is what was being celebrated today, and that is something not seen or realized in every nation.
“It is a great, great privilege to serve our great nation and I encourage you today to enjoy, reflect, and embrace your freedoms,” he said.
In her closing remarks, Cubbage said the ceremony was an important annual tradition for the school and community by setting aside the time to ensure students and staff take time to thank families and members of the community who have served and currently serving, as well as those that have passed.
“We also take the time to remember that we should not take our freedoms for granted for it is the members of the military and their loved ones that make sacrifices each day to protect these freedoms and stand up for those in the world who cannot stand up for themselves,” Cubbage said.
Sadly, she added, many of the veterans who have fought for our country and its ideals are no longer with us, paying the ultimate sacrifice.
“It is vitally important that we take the time to recognize them,” she said.