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Hoopeston Area High School senior Sadie Drayer reads her Veterans Day essay during Monday’s Veterans Day program.

Good morning and thank you all for attending today.

Today is a day of true celebration, for everyone. We celebrate those heroic men and women who have dedicated so much to our great nation, to protect and preserve the freedoms that make America so great. Without all of you, my life and all of our lives would not be the same.

It is easy to live, just going through the motions, without realizing how gifted we truly are. But, when you really think about it, there are so many things that are only possible because of the freedom that are veterans have fought for: going to school, watching tv, traveling, having religious preferences, voicing our opinions, having social media, and so many others. These things are all automatic to us. We do them without a second thought, but not everyone in the world is as lucky as we are. But freedom does not come free. It is because of all our amazing veterans and first responders that the lives we live are possible.

John 15:13 says “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” The amount of courage, patriotism, and bravery it takes to serve in the armed forces is explainable. To willingly lay your life on the line, to fight for people you have never met, and may never meet, takes more courage than I can imagine. To leave the comfort of home, family, and everyday American life to fight in a foreign place is patriotism at its finest. There are not enough words or number of thank yous I can give to show how deeply you all are appreciated.

Not all heroes wear capes, they wear uniforms and they live right beside us.