McLean High School principal Deborah Jackson knows “a thing or two” about why veterans should be honored for service to their country. Jackson’s three brothers all served in the Vietnam War, as did five of her cousins – one of whom was killed in combat. In addition, Jackson’s son-in-law is currently a major in the U.S. Air Force.
“I truly understand what it means to celebrate on this very special day,” said Jackson, speaking at the Nov. 12 American Legion Post 270 McLean Veterans Day Ceremony at McLean High School. “I know what it means to think about this great nation and the prosperity we enjoy today – that did come at a price.”
American Legion Post 270 members gathered at the McLean High School Memorial Grove along with local public officials, local police and firefighters, and a group of McLean High School students to honor veterans at a special ceremony held on Monday at noon.
“It’s our day, so we’re going to have a little ceremony to remember what we did,” said Post 270 member Jay Edwards, noting that POW soldiers and Missing In Action (MIA) soldiers are “not foreign concepts” for many local residents and Post 270 members. “All of the things you hear about in the military — we took part in those.”
Addressing the students present at the ceremony, Edwards cited an old saying: “If you can read, thank your teachers. If you can read in English, thank our World War II veterans.”
CARRYING on an annual tradition, Del. Vincent Callahan (R-34th) recited the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields” which was written about World War I. A veteran himself, Callahan recalled how his father lied about his age and joined the U.S. Army at the age of 15.
“He served for about all of three days before his mother tracked him down,” said Callahan. “The Army gave him an honorable discharge, but he always said he was kicked out for ‘perjury.’”
State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) also spoke at Monday’s ceremony, and said that it was not until she became a state senator that she truly understood the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day – Veterans Day is a day to honor U.S. service men and women who are still living, while Memorial Day is a day to honor those U.S. service men and women who died in the line of duty. Subsequently, Howell was co-patron of a bill that will help to provide teaching materials to schools so students can learn more about what distinguishes the two days.
“I was co-patron of that — obviously I needed the education myself,” said Howell. “My ability to be in Richmond and to be elected, and the ability for people to vote for me or vote against me, is all thanks to you, and that’s what we’re all about.”