Sixth-grade students were challenged by Veterans Day speakers this morning “to do something bigger than yourself” and to serve this country in some way to help it become better.
Strayer Middle School hosted the 31st annual Veterans Day 2019 program that rotates between the Quakertown Community, Palisades and Pennridge school districts, and includes students from Faith Christian Academy, Upper Bucks Christian School and St. Isidore’s School.
“You are our bright future, you’re the future of America,” said Navy Rear Admiral Linda Wackerman, who has lived in Quakertown for 25 years of her 32-year military career. “You take the baton and make this country better than it is. I challenge you because we need you to do that.”
Read Admiral Wackerman praised veterans, saying, “They were selfless so you could sleep soundly in your bed. I’ve been all over the world, you don’t know how good you have it here.” Along with each speaker, she asked students to thank veterans.
Sixth Grade Center Principal Eric Thompson, a former middle school social studies teacher, used the words of President John F. Kennedy inaugural’s speech to challenge the young people in the Strayer auditorium.
“President Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,’” Thompson said. “That quote resonates today. What can we do to serve our country?
“Today is a special day to celebrate. Without our veterans, there would be no America. No freedom, not our way of life. We would not have everything we hold most dear.
“Please find a special way to honor them because without them there would be no America.”
The 90-minute program, emceed by state Rep. Craig Staats, was sponsored by the seven veterans organizations in Upper Bucks County: Hartzell-Crouthamel Post No. 280, John Rivers Memorial Post VFW Post 11322, Nase-Kraft Post No. 255, Palisades District Memorial Post No. 399, VFW Post 245, Forrest Lodge, Vietnam Veterans of America, VVA Chapter 468, and Wallace Willard Keller Post No. 242.
Music and singing were provided by the Sixth Grade Center band, chorus and orchestra, directed by Todd Silvius, Melanie Hazelrigg and Megan Edinger. In the lobby before the event, visitors were entertained by Messa di Voce, directed by Cynthia Teprovich.
Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner, who spent 24 years on active duty, including four years as a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy, said, “There’s nothing more special than being able to serve your country. As a sixth-grader, what would I take away from today? The message is about love of country. I have lived all over the world, and I tell you there’s no place like home.”
Gary Weckselblatt is the director of communications for Quakertown Community School District.