The Pacific High School JROTC and the student body paid tribute to area veterans in the 18th annual PHS Veterans Day assembly Nov. 10.
Some 809 students filled the bleachers to stand and offer round after round of applause as 47 veterans entered the gym, each accompanied by a JROTC cadet.
The applause continued as each veteran was identified by rank and name, in order of their branch of service — Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard.
The PHS concert choir sang the national anthem as veterans stood caps in hands.
Veterans stood again as the PHS band played a medley of military theme songs of each branch of service, with the Marine Corps veterans and JROTC cadets standing for both the Marine Corps theme and the Navy song.
In a turn of events, CWO Brian Cain, JROTC commander, reminded the assembly that in addition to honoring veterans, the cadets also are celebrating the 242nd birthday of the Marine Corps.
Cain asked everyone in the gym, including students, who was a veteran or had a family member who was a veteran to stand, which brought the majority of the assembly to its feet.
Cain reminded visitors that Veterans Day is not confined to recognizing individuals who served in time of military conflict.
“That’s Memorial Day,” Cain said. “Veterans Day is a day that we recognized every individual who stood and took the oath to serve our country in military service.”
As he welcomed veterans, students and visitors to the assembly, Tom Sauvage, PHS principal, chose a favorite quote to state in simple terms the value of individuals willing to serve in the military.
“It was renowned journalist and radio broadcaster Elmer Davis who so famously said ‘Our nation will remain the land of the free only as long as it is the home of the brave,’ ” Sauvage said. “These words echo as a reminder on a day like Veterans Day when we pause as a nation to recognize the service and the sacrifices of our nation’s heroes.
“Without question, America would not be the greatest nation in the world without the dedication and perseverance of the many men and women who have put aside personal ambition to protect the way of life we hold dear,” he added.
As he thanked the assembled veterans for their service, Sauvage also said the celebration was a way to honor the men and women who did not live to be thanked as veterans.
“This is especially personal to me,” said Sam Dorner, 2013 PHS graduate, former Marine and keynote speaker.
Dorner said veterans have the ability to bring out the best in others.
“One thing veterans do is to become the catalyst to inspire others to do the best that they can,” he said. “We can all strive to be that catalyst.”
At the close of the ceremony, two Korean War veterans, Frank Weber and Ray Sovar with the Korean War Veterans of Washington, known as the Gray Beards, presented a check for $500 to the PHS JROTC program.
“We appreciate what you do,” Sovar said.
The Gray Beards meet at the Washington American Legion at 1 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month and invite all Korean War veterans to join them.