CVMS students pay tribute to veterans

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Neighbors | Abby Slanker.Bruce Kirkland, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in August of 1956, was the featured speaker at C.H. Campbell Elementary School’s annual Veterans Day Assembly on Nov. 11.


Neighbors | Abby Slanker.A C.H. Campbell Elementary School second-grader presented a veteran with a flag during the school’s annual Veterans Day Assembly on Nov. 11.


Eighth-grade students at Canfield Village Middle School honored veterans during the school’s annual Veterans Day Program on 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 also invited their guest speaker, Lieutenant Colonel James Torok of the United States Air Force.

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 ‘The White Table.’

The students began the program with the posting of the colors, which attendees were asked to stand for, and remained standing for the “Pledge of Allegiance.” The “Star Spangled Banner” was then performed as a solo by a member of the Canfield Village Middle School Canfield Cambiata, under the direction of CVMS music teacher Tom Scurich.

An eighth-grade student then started the speeches by asking ‘What does Veterans Day mean to you?’ She then went on to explain it is a time to remember and be grateful for our veterans. It is a time to reflect on the cost of war and the cost of service.

Next, the Canfield Cambiata performed “Salute to Armed Forces,” during which veterans in attendance were asked to stand and be recognized when the song from their branch of the military was presented. Each veteran received resounding applause.

In introducing ‘The White Table’ theme, a student explained the significance of the table, stating it is a symbol of hope and it is to honor missing service members and appreciate the sacrifice they have made.

The students then broke down each part of the table and explained the meaning in detail.

First, the round, white tablecloth was addressed. The cloth is round because it represents the never ending cycle of the service members’ service. It is white because that represents the purity of our soldiers and their answer to the call of duty.

Next, the single red rose in a vase was explained that it was meant to remind us of family and loved ones. The red color represents the blood the soldiers have bled and sacrificed for our nation. The thorns on the rose represent the stabs in the hearts of families as they find out of their loss.

The yellow ribbon on the table was said to symbolize asking to remember soldiers who have served and are lost and missing. It symbolizes the everlasting hope and a joyous reunion for those yet unaccounted for.

The slice of lemon on the table was said to remind us of bitter fate. While lemons can be seen as bright and cheery, this lemon has a deeper meaning. It represents the hopelessness of knowing a loved one may never return from war.

The salt on the table was explained to represent the tears of our soldiers’ loved ones. There is a range of two opposite emotions, tears of sorrow and tears of joy when a soldier makes it home.

The sacred texts on the table were said to represent faith in a higher power. Faith helps keep us going and helps us move on with keeping the memory of lost loved ones alive.

The inverted glass on the table was explained as reminding us that our troops cannot be with us to drink a toast or join in festivities for the evening. The soldiers sacrificed these moments, such as birthdays, holidays and special occasions, so we can still have them.

The candle on the table was said to represent our light of hope. A candle has many meanings, but the candle on The White Table means the soldiers remember the light of home that lives on in their hearts. For their family, it represents hope which comforts them. Hope is sometimes the only thing a soldier has to hold onto.

And, finally, it was explained that the empty chair at The White Table represents the missing and fallen who aren’t present. The chair is a place for each soldier who never came home. It is the symbol of the ultimate sacrifice so we can have our freedoms.

Lieutenant Colonel James Torok was then introduced by his son, Logan, a CVMS eighth-grader.

“My dad has served in the United States Air Force for 23 years. I am proud of all his accomplishments and his love for our country. He is my hero,” Logan said.

Lt. Col. Torok began his speech by thanking everyone in attendance.

“Thank you. You are the ones who keep the home fires burning for our soldiers, and that is very important. To me, Veterans Day is a time to celebrate and recognize those who have served and are currently serving our country. Veterans are teachers, doctors, police officer, firefighters, family, friends and neighbors. Take the time today and everyday to thank a veteran,” Lt. Col. Torok said.

Lt. Col. Torok then showed a video titled, “Just a Common Soldier.”

“Thank you for having me here today. Over the course of American history, men and women have served this great country. Remember, they all gave some, but some gave all,” Lt. Col. Torok concluded.

In keeping with ‘The White Table’ theme, in a final speech, a student urged audience members to reflect on the White Table and what each item means and thanked all veterans for all they have done.

To close the program, Miles Johnson, an eighth-grade student, played “Taps” from the back of the auditorium.

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