It was truly music to stir the soul, especially when the purpose of the gathering was to give heart-felt thanks to those who have sacrificed so much.
Maryville High School joined the schools and civic groups who take time out each November to honor our country’s veterans with an assembly program on Wednesday, Nov. 10, in honor of Veterans Day. (For a story on William Blount’s annual Veterans Day program, see today’s School Spirit section.)
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day in 1938, an official U.S. holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on Nov. 11, 1918. In 1954, with both World War II and the Korean War in recent history, Congress removed the word Armistice and Nov. 11 became Veterans Day, a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Veterans Day became part of the “three-day holiday weekends” for a brief time from 1971 to 1975, although many states did not follow the Federal holiday of “last Monday in October,” and continued celebrations on Nov. 11. President Gerald put things back in place, and Veterans Day officially moved back to Nov. 11 in 1978.
While Memorial Day in May is specifically set aside to honor servicemen and women who died in service to their country, Veterans Day is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who have served in the military, whether in peacetime or in war.
At Maryville High School, music set the stage for those honors to be bestowed. The Maryville High Brass Band, directed by Tom Delozier, played and Allison Short sang the “Star Spangled Banner” to begin the morning. Isaac Parrish led the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a welcome from MHS principal Mike Casteel and a recognition of guests by Charles Staley.
Dr. Ken Hawkins brought the Maryville Singers center-stage with “Seize the Day and “Armed Forces Salute,” with Jill Purvis accompanying. More music followed the guest speaker when Clara Musick sang “Red, White and Blue,” followed by Ellen Rigell playing “Taps.”
After the Color Guard retired the colors, Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” closed out the program, with solo performances by Morgan Winegar and Austin Loo.
Keynote speaker for the special morning was U.S. Army Major Jason Deel, who told the gathered guests and students about his experiences in Afghanistan and the friends he lost in the conflict there. Visiting veterans were also recognized and thanked for their service during the program.