Red, white and blue balloons and decorations set the all-American theme for the annual Veterans Tribute held on Wednesday at the Neosho Middle School. The program was a joint effort between the Middle School and Goodman Elementary School, which share a building.
Charity Williams, Neosho Middle School principal, welcomed the veterans, families, and friends who attended.
The Neosho High School Missouri 41st Air Force Junior ROTC students provided a color guard for the event.
6th grade Tonix and Goodman 3rd grade students sang the national anthem as the crowd stood, hats off and hands over their hearts.
ROTC cadets Aaron Williams and Patrick Williams unfurled an American flag as another cadet read from the poem, Remember Me, part of which reads:
"Is it a sin to be patriotic anymore? Have some people forgotten what I stand for? Have they forgotten all the battlefields where men have fought and died to keep this nation free? When you salute me you are actually saluting them! Take a look at the memorial rolls some time. Look at the names of those who never came back. Some of them were friends and relatives of yours. That's whom you are saluting, not me!"
Students from the Neosho Middle School Catalyst Crew made a leadership presentation and Goodman third graders provided a tribute to the Armed Forces with a medley of each service branch's songs.
Guest speaker Sergeant First Class Rick Wallace, US Army, retired served as the guest speaker.
"It is an honor to be here," Wallace said as he addressed the crowd. "I joined the military as a senior in high school, at Neosho High School and graduated in 1988. I've been several places around the country and the world including Iraq and Afghanistan. Of all the places I've been, I can say I was happy to come home in 2016 to Neosho, Missouri."
Wallace spoke about pride and credited one of his high school teachers, Russell Hively, for calling him out when he wasn't paying attention.
"I took that lesson and what my father taught me into the service. I served with pride for 28 years. To all the students, I would say take pride in yourself and your community. To all the veterans, I am eternally grateful to all of you. I learned a lot of valuable lessons in the service, many of them from Vietnam era veterans and passed those lessons to a younger generation. Take pride in this community, this is a fantastic community."
Williams honored service members who are among her staff, student families, and the community. Several patriotic songs were sung by both the 6th grade Tonix and the Goodman School third graders. The two choirs combined on several songs.
The Neosho High School jazz band provided a musical prelude and postlude for the event.
Following the tribute, guests were invited to enjoy refreshments in the Middle School Cafeteria.