MARYVILLE, Mo. — With patriotic music, singing and small gifts, Maryville Middle School students honored local veterans at a Veterans Day Assembly held Friday in the school gym.
Students emceed the event while the seventh grade band and eighth grade choir performed. At one point, the band played the official march or hymn for each branch of the United States military. Veterans from those branches stood and were recognized.
After students discussed some of the reasons for the holiday, the audience heard from veteran Jamie Ball, who just so happens to teach seventh grade social studies at the school.
“I’m not much of a speaker, but Veterans Day is something very near and dear to my heart,” he said.
He explained there are many reasons people join the military, college benefits, economic ability and for the love of their country.
He joined for the third reason. Beginning at the age of 8, Ball’s service to his country started when he saw a flag and began researching all about it. In seventh grade, when the Sept. 11 tragedy occurred, he knew his path.
“It was a little naive of myself to think that I could protect America, but I thought I could do my part,” Ball said.
As soon as he turned 18, he joined the Army, leaving only 4 days after his high school graduation. He did his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he thought it was hot and then was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, where he definitely thought it was hot.
“Then I went to Kuwait, and I realized what hot is,” Ball joked. “When its 140 degrees out there, you are not having a good day.”
Ball served in many locations around the world including Germany for four years, Israel, where he had rockets fired at him. “But today is about all the veterans,” he said “I truly believe in the principles our country was founded on.”
After traveling around the world he realized there is no place like the United States and that people in other countries often have a difficult time understanding the meaning patriotism or the U.S. Constitution.
“As veterans we swore an oath to defend and serve the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “We signed a blank check, payable to the United States of America for anything up to and including our lives. … We do this because that we believe that if we give up our lives maybe we can leave this world a better place for our children and our grandchildren.
“So on this Veterans Day, lets remember the people who decided that freedom was worth fighting for. Some of these heroes never made it back to the country they were fighting to protect. All gave some and some gave all.”