The staff and students of Johnson County Middle School gathered for an assembly Monday in recognition of Veterans Day.
Two guest speakers were invited to take to the podium to share their experiences in the armed services: U.S. Navy veteran Ken Crawford and U.S. Marine Corps veteran and state representative-elect Bobby McCool. The program also featured performances by the Johnson Central Honor Ensemble choir directed by Amy Conley, as well as singers Amy Case, Kevin Conley and Angie B. Conley.
Crawford said his time in the Navy led him to serve on numerous ships and visit many countries.
“It’s an honor to serve my country,” Crawford said. “I wrote a blank check to my country, willing to give up to and including my life if necessary. And each of these fellows and ladies out here did the same thing. I’m proud of each and every one of you.”
Crawford touted the educational benefits of serving in the armed forces, both in being able to learn a trade and in scholarship opportunities.
“I want you to know that each and every one of us who signed our name on that line, we did it for you, so you could have the freedoms that you have today,” Crawford said. “You can do what you choose to do because you live in a free country. I’ve been in countries where it’s not free, where things don’t seem right. When you go different places and you see what people have and don’t have, you respect what you have at home. It’s a hard lesson to learn. Not every child gets to go to school, gets a chance to eat, gets a chance to be free.”
McCool shared those sentiments.
“A great price has been paid for Lady Liberty and for free speech,” McCool said. “A price that as a nation, and a people, we can never forget. You have opportunities today because of these sacrifices made by the men and women who left their families and their friends behind to serve their country ... not thinking of their own outcomes, but of yours.
“Let us never forget the price that was paid,” McCool said.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, school officials presented every veteran in attendance with a certificate and a pin, before the crowd of seventh and eighth grade students, faculty and staff gave a lengthy standing ovation.