John Tyler Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students took time to show appreciation for the veterans in their school and community on Friday.
For the first year, the JROTC took over the school’s annual Veterans Day Breakfast and opened it to veterans not only working at the school, but others in the community, such as the veterans from the Wesley House Assisted Living facility in Lindale.
About two dozen veterans enjoyed food and fellowship in the company of students who hope to follow in their footsteps.
“I see it as both respectful and getting their foot in the door,” Army veteran and John Tyler teacher Toby Wahl said. “They’re learning the key to surviving in the military and a classroom, how to manage themselves and have self-discipline.”
Wahl said it was great to walk into the library before school had started and see JROTC members setting up without even needing their instructor Lt. Col. Janie Eddins present.
The youngest and oldest veterans present also cut a cake, in honor of Friday also being the 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
World War II veteran Ernest Grona cut the cake with army veteran Tammie Berkefeldt, whose daughter is in the JROTC program.
Grona said it meant a lot to him that the students went out of their way to do something for the group.
Guest speaker 1st Sgt. Arthur Graves asked the attendees to reflect on the importance of Veterans Day in three areas – what a veteran is, giving back and thanking veterans, and that it is a day of quiet reflection.
Graves also reminded the students of the importance of letting veterans speak about the memories they made.
“Veterans, particularly those who have been to war, there are a lot of painful things they may not want to talk about,” Graves said. “Let them tell you about a good memory.”