When the Lynchburg-Clay student body broke into applause on Veterans Day for fellow students who are considering joining military, guest speaker Kevin Barreras said it touched him so much that he almost forgot his speech.
Barreras, a former U.S. Army major and board member with the Highland County Veterans Service Office, was also the guest speaker Wednesday at Veterans Day services at Hillsboro VFW Post 9094.
Rather than giving the speech he planned at the VFW, Barreras said he wanted to share what he witnessed earlier at Lynchburg-Clay.
“I asked the senior class how many were considering serving in the military, and five or six held up their hands,” Barreras said. “Then the student broke into applause, and that kind of got me for minute, and I almost forgot what I was going to say.
“Today is Veterans Day and its a chance to honor not only the living, but all those who have served. When those kids broke into applause, I think that says a lot about the future of our country.”
Barreras said the likelihood of young people serving their country is directly proportionate to how they see veterans being treated and how veterans are perceived by their country. He said that some veterans, especially those that served in Vietnam, may not have been perceived so well by everyone, but that the way veterans and current military members are perceived today is much different.
“There always seems to be a need for people to step forward and serve their country in a time of need,” he said.
Another member of the Highland County Veterans Service Office staff, Stephanie Roland, was asked by Hillsboro VFW Post 9094 Commander Rick Wilkin if there was anything she would like to say. She said she would like to read something she came across on social media earlier in the day that struck a chord with her.
“Every waving flag, hand-covered heart, and deeply felt prayer asking God to bless America, is a declaration of thanks to all those who have served,” Roland read. “You’ve shown by example what it truly means to belong to the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
She said those words were underscored with a quote from the Bible that reads: “Everytime I think of you, I give thanks to my God,” (Philippians 1:3 NLT).
In closing the ceremony that was shorter and less well attended than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Highland County Veterans Honor Guard serving at two funerals Wednesday, Wilkin said, “I guess it is because of God’s grace that America is what it is. It’s him that our country was founded on.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.