As I entered Mariners Christian School on Veterans Day morning for the “Red, White, and Blue” breakfast, I walked past the school band proudly playing “God Bless America.”
Just before leaving the all-school program at noon, I joined with more than 900 students, staff, teachers, alumni, grandparents, veterans, military members and their friends and family as we all proudly sang “God Bless America” together.
In between those times, I heard stories of sacrifice, service, honor and patriotism. I listened to students and adults thank God, thank veterans, and pray for our country. I enjoyed the many unique creative ways the school and the students saluted our country’s veterans.
”This is a longstanding legacy and tradition at Mariners Christian School,” said Troy Moore, Head of School, as he welcomed the 250 guests who attended the breakfast before the larger program. “This is a time to thank our veterans. We invite veterans, or family members of those currently serving, to share their branch of service and some memories. And when we know there’s a Vietnam Veteran in our midst, we say “Welcome Home.”
The veteran’s stories were touching, sobering and inspiring. The approximately 50 veterans who spoke spanned from World War II to Afghanistan/Iraqi Freedom. Each one appreciated the opportunity to speak, but did so with humility.
“I’m here to honor those who didn’t come back,” said one veteran. “I’m glad I went because it was needed,” said another.
The veterans also appreciated the patriotic pulse of the school. “This restores my faith in America, where it seems like we’ve forgotten God,” said another veteran.
The all-school program gave students the chance to thank veterans through poems, songs, prayers and videos. Special presentations throughout the event gave those same students the opportunity to learn more about the military.
Dwight Hanson, U.S. Marine Corp Retired, and an MCS father, explained the importance of thanking veterans. Sue Celek, Community Connector at MCS, led a time of prayer over parents of alumni who currently serve.
Todd Perkins, Chief Administrative Officer at Mariners Christian School, interviewed keynote speaker James W. Evatt, Colonel, U.S. Air Force, Retired. Evatt, who is also an MCS grandfather, has helped expand the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program at MCS over the years. He shared his experiences in the Air force, as well as explaining the role of technology in the military. He also spoke about leadership in a way that any age student could understand.
“Leadership means that you treat everybody with kindness and sincerity,” he said. “You treat people fairly and honestly. This means to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Leadership is not about what you accomplish, it’s about what God is accomplishing through you. Go with service over self, don’t worry about who’s getting credit.”
Evatt was also honored with the school’s Dr. Benjamin Friedman Leadership Award and received two checks totaling $6,900 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9934 in Dana Point. The funds will be used to help with events, emergency financial assistance, and care packages for the dedicated servicemen and women.
Alumni Wesley Parsons highlighted another role of technology in the military and delighted the audience with a demonstration of a quadcopter. He explained that quadcopters are equipped with cameras and therefore can help in military search and rescue missions.
It was Mariners Christian School’s eleventh annual Veterans Day observance. I could tell many veterans and grandparents make it a yearly tradition when I overheard another veteran summarize his feelings about the event.
“This is our annual fix of hope,” he said.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].