Local Students Honor Veterans Through Participation in Veterans Day Ceremony
At 11:00 a.m. on Friday, November 10, Davidson residents gathered for the Town’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony. The event was well-attended, in spite of gray skies and a threat of impending rain.
This year’s keynote address was delivered by Davidson resident General Steve Lyons, U.S. Army (Retired). General Lyons described Veterans as special people who understand that “the value of our lives has less to do with the longevity of years and much more to do with the willingness to make a positive difference in the world.” He emphasized that “all of us, Veterans and non-Veterans alike,” were created “for service, for honor, and for greatness.”
Near the end of his address, Lyons discussed the decreasing percentage of Veterans relative to the U.S. population. Because of the declining numbers of active service members and Veterans, Lyons noted that “key influencers for our youth, like teachers and coaches and parents, lack the knowledge and experience to encourage students to serve honorably in the armed forces,” which, he added, “makes ceremonies like today’s ceremony more important than ever.”
The participation of young people from in and around Davidson is central to the Town’s Veterans Day ceremony each year, and demonstrates that the service and sacrifice of Veterans continue to inspire younger generations. This year’s event featured the Davidson Day middle school band, William A. Hough High School JROTC Cadets, and Scouts from Pack 58 and Troop 58.
Before the ceremony, Davidson residents Joelle Nabti of Pack 58, and Jacob Nabti of Troop 58, were positioned near the base of the flagpole, greeting townspeople and handing out programs. They also assisted with setting up and putting away chairs and tables after the event. The two scouts were enthusiastic about the ceremony and the importance of Veteran’s Day. Joelle Nabti said that her teacher at Davidson K-8 had prepared a special lesson to teach students about the history and importance of Veterans Day.
As the town gathered, the Davidson Day band students provided a background of patriotic songs for the occasion. The band is directed by Jessica Phipps, Davidson Day Middle School Band teacher. This is the 2nd year that Davidson Day students have provided the music for the ceremony, and the young musicians have been practicing for the event since September. The students understand that playing for the public and for local Veterans is a special honor. “Collaborating with the Town of Davidson helps our students see the value that their music plays in the lives of their community outside of our daily classes,” said Phipps.
The JROTC program of Hough High School has been an active part of the Veterans Day ceremony for several years. Hough’s JROTC program is led by teachers Colonel J.G. Howard (Retired) and First Sergeant Daryl Hayes (Retired).
JROTC Cadets are involved in several aspects of the ceremony. A color guard posts the colors prior to the singing of the National Anthem and then retires the colors at the end of the program. JROTC cadets also perform a flag folding ceremony that is synchronized with the recitation of the patriotic poem, “My Name is Old Glory.” The folded flag is carefully passed down a row of six cadets who salute the flag as it passes from hand to hand. The ceremony demonstrates respect, discipline, and cohesion. The pace of each movement is “sloooow,” explained Cadet Benjamin Sheppard, demonstrating the concept by drawing out the word. He said that cadets work out the precise timing of the slow-motion salutes and flag transfers through “practice, lots of practice.”
When asked about the significance of Hough’s JROTC participation in the ceremony, Cadet Ada deBree said, “We feel proud knowing that we are serving the community through JROTC.” As a Davidson resident deBree added, “This ceremony makes me proud to live in a town that honors Veterans the way that they should be honored.”
Near the end of the program, the Davidson Day band played “The Armed Forces Medley,” which is a highlight of the program each year. Each branch of the United States Armed Forces has an official song or march that is instantly recognizable and a source of pride to its members.
During the performance of the medley, present or former service members are asked to stand or wave as they hear their song so that their service can be recognized. As Veterans and service members stood, the crowd applauded loudly and enthusiastically. There was also a robust shout of “Go Navy” from a local Veteran at the close of “Anchors Aweigh.”
Recognizing military service through music is a powerful tribute and an expression of gratitude from the local students. “Through music, we help develop our students’ character by showing them the positive effect their music can have on others,” said Phipps. “As we play the National Anthem and the Armed Forces marches, if we see any of our local Veterans either smile or shed a tear, we will know we have offered the best of our band as a thank you for their service.”
Watch the video of the Service Medley here.
See the full photo album here.
Lyn Batty, a Charlotte native, practiced law in North Carolina for 15 years before transitioning to academic librarianship and teaching. Lyn and her husband David have lived in Davidson since 2009. Lyn previously co-authored the “Common Laws” legal column for DavidsonNews.net.