Washington honors Veterans with assembly


Photo courtesy of Refuel Agency

On Nov. 11, 2022, Washington High School held an assembly to honor Veterans in the community who have served their country. This is the first Veterans Assembly within the high school since the start of the pandemic. This year’s assembly featured the National Honor Society, JROTC, Wind Symphony, Concert Choir, orchestra and multiple speakers.

“[Being a Veteran] taught me about my country, the importance of my country and the discipline to want to achieve things for my country,” prior U.S. Marine infantry member Mike Schultz said. 

Each Veteran has sacrificed something for the sake of the country, no matter how big or small the act. 

“Service is something that we all do in some way, shape or form,” Lieutenant Colonel Brian Patterson said. “I’d say what drew me to serve was my family members that served before me and hearing some of their stories and the life lessons that they learned through their service. That’s what pulled me towards service.” 

The stories of those who served in the past resonate with Patterson, as he explained in his speech to the attendees of the assembly. 

“We need to continue to tell our story and share what we learned. Many years ago, from what they call their greatest generation; the men and women from World War II,” Patterson said. “They didn’t tell a lot of their stories and unfortunately, as they start to age and pass away, we lose the ability to hear that from them in person.” 

Within each story lies the sacrifice, heroism and service of each Veteran. There have been many stories lost over time that will never be “recovered” across each battle and branch of U.S. forces.

“What’s found in those stories … is what makes this country great. Why would somebody be willing to leave their home and the comfort of their house and their community and potentially risk their life for that place,” Patterson said. “Well, through those experiences, they come back and tell that story and you can find out why. Why is this place so important that you’re willing to give your life and sacrifice yourself so they can stay the same?”

Some Veterans at the assembly wanted to share their stories with students willing to listen and talk with them. 

“I went to electronics school, then I went to missile school,” Air Force Veteran William Whyte said. “So, I was underground in a missile site during the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

Whyte maintained bravery in the face of danger, something which exemplifies the sacrifice of Veterans all over. 

“[That situation] seems more interesting and scary in a way nowadays, thinking about it, than when I was actually doing it,” Whyte said. “Because then you had a job to do.” 

There were many different Veterans at the assembly, all with different serving experiences and jobs. Despite this, the Concert Choir group picked their own song selections in order to best to recognize all the branches being represented.

“They [concert choir students] felt like that [song] was the best way to honor the ones who’ve given their ultimate sacrifice,” choir director Jessie Patterson said. “Then the tribute to the Armed Forces is one of our all-time crowd favorites. Sometimes Veterans, don’t get to hear their anthem, and so that is our way of honoring that. It’s really important for them to continue to hear the anthem for their branch.” 

The choir enjoys performing at the assembly to remember the sacrifices that Veterans made for all. 

“It is one of my all-time favorite events that we do for choir. It’s our way of giving back to the Veterans who have done so much for us,” [J] Patterson said. “And it’s a really amazing way for us to be able to honor their sacrifice.”

To all those who previously served, are currently serving, or plan to serve the United States of America, WHS thanks you for your service, bravery and courage to help protect the freedoms of this country.  

“I think it’s great that people honored the Veterans who served,” Schultz said. “It was a wonderful thing that was done here at this high school to honor those people that served in the military.”