Calera students recognize veterans

Published 12:32 pm Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Calera High School band plays patriotic songs to honor veterans at the Nov. 10 Veterans Day Ceremony. (Reporter photo / Jessa Pease)

The Calera High School band plays patriotic songs to honor veterans at the Nov. 10 Veterans Day Ceremony. (Reporter photo / Jessa Pease)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

CALERA— When Calera High School students walked into school Nov. 10, veterans from various branches of military joined them for a special ceremony.

Every year, the Student Government Association at Calera plans a Veterans Day ceremony to honor individuals in the community and embody the courage and valiance exemplified by those individuals who served for the United States.

“It is so important to recognize these brave men and women fighting for our country, said SGA President Madison Jacobs. “Without them—freedom isn’t free—we wouldn’t have freedom of speech, freedom of religion and all that. So it is really important to recognize them and our special country.”

The morning featured patriotic performances by Calera’s band and chorus, and SGA students read poems depicting military scenes, acts of valor and more.

More than 20 veterans sat in the middle of the room during the presentation, and were asked to stand in recognition of the branch they served in.

“It was such an honor getting to recognize all the veterans for all they have done for myself and the country,” Jacobs said.

The SGA organized the entire event from the entertainment to the speaker. Jacobs said the hardest part was finding a speaker because so many people had already committed to other opportunities or were celebrating the day out of town.

Luckily, one of Calera’s own had a family member who wanted to speak. Timia Gilbert’s father, Sgt. First Class Timothy Gilbert, addressed the audience and spoke about significance.

He went on to list the important dates in his own life, including his birth, his deployment, the wedding date and the births of his children. Gilbert also explained the moments that were significant to his military career, such as Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11.

“It was good to have that homey feeling that somebody was tied to our school,” Jacobs said.

The lights went down in the gym, for a slideshow depicting the other veterans tied to the school. Faculty members and students submitted photos of veterans and active-duty family members to share at the ceremony.

Jacobs’s favorite part, she said, was an unscripted moment by principal Joel Dixon. The ceremony was over, but Dixon pulled out an empty chair saying it was for his father, a Marine who passed away four years ago.

“You heard his voice crack, and when his voice cracked, I started crying,” Jacobs said. “That was very special.”

After the ceremony, SGA hosted a reception in the library for the veterans and their families. They sat down and asked the veterans about their favorite countries they visited and their best war stories.

The students remembered the main theme of the day: Freedom isn’t free.

“Tomorrow take a moment to reflect…the true significance of why we observe this day for those who served and sacrificed and endured the hardships for the sake of our freedom,” Gilbert said.