By ABBY SLANKER
Eighth-grade students at Canfield Village Middle School honored veterans during the school’s annual Veterans Day program Nov. 11. The volunteer students invited local veterans to attend and were responsible for every aspect of the program, from writing speeches to gathering pictures to creating the PowerPoint presentation.
The students, under the direction of social studies teachers Mike Kerensky and Jason Jugenheimer, worked several hours after school to organize the program, which carried the theme ‘Coming Home.’
The students began the program with the posting of the colors by Emma Kadilak, Elizabeth Rhoades, Alex Maxin and Angelo Petracci, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem performed by Lilli Tomko.
An eighth-grade student presented opening remarks, stating “Veterans Day is a day of remembrance. It is a day of honor and a day of reflection. A veteran is defined as a male or female member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.”
Members of the CVMS band then played Armed Forces on Parade and asked any veterans in the audience to stand and be recognized when their military branch song was played. Each veteran received rousing applause.
Students took turns taking the podium to read passages they had written which expanded on the theme of ‘Coming Home’ and included the topics of patriotism and duty; telling family; leaving; serving from the soldier’s point of view and the family’s point of view; coming home; deployment for a family and after the soldier returns home.
The CVMS Cardinal Chorale, under the direction of choir teacher Stephanie Summers, performed “Lady of the Harbor” for the standing room only crowd.
The program’s guest speaker, Major Darrell Pugh, was then introduced by his daughter, Anna.
Major Pugh, a U.S. Army trauma surgeon, explained his job while in Iraq, to the students.
“Being a trauma surgeon is very different than working at home. Surgery and care of soldiers is so much different in the field. There we mostly do damage control. Our job is to make sure soldiers make it home and 98.5 percent of the time, our soldiers made it home alive,” Pugh said.
Pugh went on to tell the students what most veterans are thinking on Veterans Day.
“If you thank a veteran on Veterans Day, the first thing that comes to mind is those who did not make it home. They want you to most remember those men and women. We ask that you not remember us, but remember those who did not come home,” Pugh said.
Pugh then offered a challenge to the students.
“I challenge you, this Veterans Day, to thank one veteran. Thank them for going to war so you could enjoy your freedom. And then take some time to think about those fallen soldiers who did not make it home,” Pugh said.
Pugh also made a special point to thank all military spouses, including his wife, Julie.
To end his speech, Pugh thanked all veterans.
“To all veterans, thank you for your service,” Pugh said to a rousing standing ovation.
To close the program, Robyn Bores played “Taps” from the back of the auditorium, followed by Sam Morris, who sang “Home.”