"One percent of the U.S. population protects the other 99 percent," a Korean War veteran told guests and Eureka High School students at Thursday's Veterand Day Celebration.
Guest speaker John Robertson recounted what his experience was like to be part of 6,000 enlisted in 17 units, and he reminded all that the Korean War was never offically declared concluded. "So we could find ourselves back there."
Robertson had a 38-year career in the U.S. Marine Corp and National Guard. He served as a police officer for 32.5 years as well.
Thursday's Veterans Day Ceremony was hosted by the school's Character Education Committee members. As guests entered the school, they were greeted by members of the symphonic strings group. Missouri's 81st Air Force Junior ROTC program members from Lafayette High School in Wildwood presented the Colors (the U.S. Flag). The school's mixed chamber choir members then sang the National Anthem.
Jessica Buehler, a character education committee member, shared the history of Veterans Day. She was followed by Robertson's address, and then the choir singing "God Bless America."
Guests then moved to the Commons area in the school for a meal and further tributes. Taps was played by the school's symphonic band. A mayor's proclamation was read and delivered by Eureka board of alderman Wes Sir, who thanked veterans especially for giving residents the freedom and right to have voted "their minds" Tuesday.
Veterans were asked to stand when their specific service songs were played:
- U.S. Army
- Coast Guard
- U.S. Marines
- U.S. Air Force
- U.S. Navy
Many tears and closed eyes in retrospection occurred during that portion of the ceremony. About 65 veterans and first responders were hosted at the event.
One family present Thursday with multiple generations of service was Eureka resident Denise Kavanaugh's members. Her father, Lawrence Washburn served in the Army from 1955-1957. "He is my hero," she said. She is a retired police officer, and her husband, Adam, still is a St. Louis County police officer.
"This day makes everyone tear up every year, but this is cool," Kavanaugh said.
She shared a story about her father who was supposed to fly back home in 1956, but he was afraid of flying so he sold his airline ticket to buy a bus ticket. The plane he would have been on, TWA Flight 2, was involved in a mid-air collision that resulted in 128 fatalities and no survivors. "We're so thankful he didn't fly that day."