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I have to admit that through my middle school years, I did not fully understand the

meaning of Veterans’ Day. It was not until the Veterans assembly during my freshmen year, did I truly begin to understand the significance of November 11th. I played in the band and rehearsed the Armed Service medley numerous times, but while playing in front of the student body and community members, I experienced a sense of pride I had never felt before.

I was overcome with goosebumps as I watched the men and women stand one by one as their branch song sounded. Seeing the pride in the their eyes and stature, even as some struggled to stand or needed help from a friend, soon became my favorite part of the community assembly. But this part of the assembly was special for another reason; my grandfather was in the crowd standing as the Air

Force song echoed through the gym. I saw my grandfather different for the first time this day. I saw him as a Veteran; a man that had sacrificed and served our country selflessly so we could be and remain free.

Freedom is earned, not given. Freedom is the privilege of free speech and making our own decisions. Freedom is the United States because of the many brave men and women that fought for our independence.

Thank you does not seem enough to show the appreciation I have for those that have served our great country. I have thought many times of ways that I could better show my appreciation or give back to the Veterans that have so selflessly given me freedom. The gifts I choose to give to Veterans and our great nation are respect, pride, and the promise to pass the true meaning of Veterans’ Day onto my children and grandchildren. Having the opportunity to be a participant of the high school band at the community Veterans’ Day assemblies is an honor and

privilege that I will always cherish. It has instilled a level of patriotism and pride that will stick with me forever. Even though it doesn’t seem near enough, I would like to say this: thank you Veterans, thank you for being our great nation’s patriots and heroes, and thank you for your undying courage and sacrifices to protect our freedoms and make a better life for each and every one of us.