Vietnam War veterans and local public officials on Friday honored a killed U.S. Marine from Reston and urged an auditorium full of South Lakes High School students to serve their community and country.
Capping off a week of Veterans Day activities, including presentations by former and current military officials, class projects on military history and a school-wide poster contest, South Lakes High hosted a ceremony to honor veterans and fallen soldiers, particularly SLHS graduate Tavon Hubbard, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq last August.
Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Harvey C. Barnum, of Reston, asked the students to remember soldiers' sacrifices and told them it will soon be their responsibility to defend the United States from threats like terrorism.
"Freedom is not free," he said. "Pause and reflect how lucky you are."
Barnum, now deputy secretary of the Navy for reserve affairs, presented Hubbard's family with a U.S. Marine commendation. The family was also given a framed resolution from the Virginia House of Delegates, honoring his service.
"Veterans Day is more than a mark on the calendar. It is a mark on the lives of many young men and women," said Del. Ken Plum, as he presented Hubbard's parents with the resolution. "To Tavon's family, we pledge our thanks and respect for his sacrifice in the name of our freedom."
Ken Knight, vice commander of the American Legion's Virginia Department, also spoke at the ceremony, asking students to consider serving their country like Hubbard did.
"When you're 15, 16, 17, 18 years of age, it's hard to understand why we have to go to another country and fight," he said. "It's so 9/11 doesn't happen again."