Cadet Major Alex Westwood, drill team commander of the Mohave High School JROTC program, brings in the U.S. flag at the start of the school’s annual veterans appreciation assembly. Westwood is followed by cadets carrying the flags of the armed services and a POW-MIA flag. Principal Steve Lawrence said the assembly is “a great way to say ‘thank you’ to the veterans and open our school to the community.”

BULLHEAD CITY — An attitude of gratitude was apparent Thursday morning in the Mohave High School gymnasium.

Principal Steve Lawrence, the student body and the Air Force JROTC cadets in particular came together with one purpose: to thank military veterans for their service and their sacrifice.

Aerospace science instructor Earl Davis set the tone at the school’s ninth annual veterans appreciation assembly by introducing dignitaries in attendance and concluding with a declaration that “the most special of all our guests are sitting down on the floor,” indicating the veterans seating area.

Davis said that Veterans Day is a time to honor those who have served and those serving now.

He talked about the holiday’s 1918 origin as Armistice Day, marking the end of fighting in World War I.

“On that day, throughout the world, people were happy,” Davis said. “They were celebrating because no one else would die in war, and their loved ones were coming home.”

History has shown the optimism to be premature. Since then, Davis said, other conflicts have erupted, meaning that men and women would again have to leave their families behind and fight for the country.

“Right now, there are thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines on the job,” he noted.

Keynote speaker Scott Anderson centered on respect. He said that he was taught by his grandfather, who fought in World War I, that he should always respect his elders, his friends and most of all his family.

“This is my family,” Anderson said, indicating the veterans.

Anderson, an Army veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, criticized athletes who kneel during ”The Star-Spangled Banner” before sporting events.

“You take a knee because you have a fallen brother or sister,” he said. “You don’t take a knee for the anthem.”

He told the students that the veterans in the building had long ago earned their respect, but are still open to defending them.

“These men and women even today would go and fight for all you hold dear,” Anderson said.

He urged the students to thank a veteran.

“We didn’t do it for glory,” he said. “We did it for love, honor duty, loyalty and respect.”

Lawrence also sought the mindfulness of students on the sacrifices of the veterans.

“As you enjoy your three-day weekend,” he said. “Keep in your thoughts those who never returned home from conflict, those still missing, and those among us today.”

The assembly also included a musical medley of the military branches’ songs, armed and unarmed demonstration drills by JROTC cadets, and a standing ovation for Lawrence’s father Joseph, a Navy veteran who served in World War II and was in Tokyo Bay during the unconditional surrender of Imperial Japan, which ended the war.

Air Force veteran Leslie Kyle attended the assembly for the first time, and found it extremely well-done, and was happy to see the entire student body in attendance.

“I thought the boys with the rifles were great,” he said.

Army veteran Robert Marnoff also said he enjoyed the presentation. He said it’s important to inspire in young people an appreciation for those who served.

For Army veteran Howard Foss, the respect shown at the assembly counters the harassment he endured when returning from Vietnam. 

“I had several friends on the floor,” Foss said. “And I can tell you that we all appreciate it. It gives you an additional two points of pride.”

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