It has been 17 years since Pacific High School students began celebrating Veterans Day by honoring area veterans in a rousing ceremony of martial music and speeches.
Some local veterans may now take the annual commemoration for granted, but on that first event they were astonished.
“It was the first time I had received public recognition of service since I came home in 1945,” said Cal Koelling, a World War II Army veteran.
The first event included speeches, the PHS band played the theme songs from each branch of service and a special tribute was paid to those who lost their lives in combat.
The 50 veterans who attended that first celebration were asked to review a wall of honor prepared by students in the foyer. The students had interviewed veterans, family members, friends and neighbors and tacked up hundreds of pamphlets, in neat regimental rows, listing the names, dates and area of duty of local veterans.
“It was just overwhelming,” Koelling said. “What these kids did made all the sacrifices worthwhile. Our future is in good hands.”
In recent years, JROTC cadets have taken up the banner to honor veterans of all military conflicts on the annual day of recognition.
This year, the celebration will begin promptly at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10.
As in previous years, the cadets want to show personal recognition to each veteran who accepts the invitation.
Veterans and their guests are encouraged to arrive at the high school an hour early so cadets can visit with them and gather important information that will be used later in the ceremony.
A cadet will escort each veteran into the gymnasium as his or her name and branch of service are announced.
The PHS concert band will perform along with various singers from the PHS choir department.
All area veterans are invited to attend.
Veterans Day is an official U.S. holiday, observed annually Nov. 11, to honor persons who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The date commemorates the anniversary of the end of World War I when major hostilities ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
Previously observed Armistice Day, the U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.