Children need to stay fit, graduate from high school, and stay out of trouble to serve in today’s military. That was the message conveyed by two guest speakers Monday during the Veterans Day program at Hickory Creek Elementary.
“Veterans like me are getting older and as we get older, it’s going to be up to children like you to defend our country,” said Matthew Colvard, a lieutenant colonel with the Army Reserves. “You need to get an education. You need to stay off drugs and you need to get exercise. Go outside and ride your bike or run. Do what you can to stay in shape.”
Those comments were echoed by Dr. Wally Bigbee, an Army veteran.
“Of the people who want to serve, 70 percent of them fail,” said Dr. Bigbee. “This can be because they’re overweight, or because they have a criminal record, or maybe they’ve made poor grades.”
Colvard talked about his deployments to Iraq, Germany and El Salvador. He told the K-5 students in attendance the United States has been at war for their entire lifetimes.
“Many veterans are wounded or come home missing limbs,” said Colvard. “This is especially true in Iraq and Afghanistan. The body armor is so much better now, something that would have previously killed you does not.
“I was stationed in Germany for three years and a lot of things will happen during a three-year period. When I came back, everything had changed. The TV shows had changed. The clothing had changed. For all of 2008, I only got to see my children for three weeks.”
Hickory Creek principal Vickie Dodd praised the veterans in attendance and carried a microphone around the gymnasium for veterans to introduce themselves. Some of the veterans in attendance were Wade Myers, James Jones, Jewell Hale, Hubert Boyd, Marty Cantrell, Jerry Stoik and Paul Brown.
Dr. Bigbee praised the veterans at the end of his speech. “We’re glad you’re here so we can see real, live heroes,” he said.