On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, a cessation of fire between the allied nations and Germany went into effect, which was the start of the ending of “the war to end all wars.”
Seven months later, the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919 to officially end World War I.
In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. Later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation to change the name to Veterans Day.
Each year, Starkville High School and Starkville Academy hold programs to remember all military — veterans and enlisted — for their service to America.
At SHS, the JORTC works hard to hold a meaningful tribute for Veterans Day. This year, retired Colonel Charles Ware, a native of Starkville, served as the guest speaker.
Ware spoke of the meaning of the word freedom — A word that in every sense does not come to Americans freely.
“They felt freedom is worth the time in a lief that’s lived but once,” Ware said of all those who serve the country. “For more than 200 years, our military has defended our interests, and they have done so magnificently.”
Ware encouraged all to thank a veteran or enlisted person for their service. He explained that they may reply that there is no need for thanks, but they are none the less deserving of that thanks.
“They’re young, they’re old, they’re rich, they’re poor, they’re black, they’re white, and nearly every category in between, and all have sacrificed something so we can share in freedom today,” he added.
SHS takes the time each year to recognize all faculty and staff who have served in the armed forces. This year, 14 individuals were recognized: Ty Adair, Rononodo Bowen, Ronald Campbell, Richard Chambers, Sean McDonnall, Eddie McDowell, David Runnels, Jerry Richardson, Sammy Shumaker, Chris Taylor, Amanda Wilson, the JROTC staff LTC (ret) Charlese D. Webb, CSM(ret) Robert J. Bishop and CSM(ret) Billy D. Houston.
The tribute also takes the time to remember the prisoners of war and those missing in action with a ceremonial table set with a candle and rose.
Starkville Academy asked SA parent and soldier Master Sgt. Ronald Smith to speak to the students. While overseas, the students of SA wrote letters to Smith thanking him for his service. Smith read two of the letters aloud, and let the student body know how touching it was for them to do that for him.
“I really appreciate that,” he said of the letters. “You don’t know how it affects you to be appreciated like that.”
Smith explained that he didn’t feel his service to his country is out of the ordinary.
“I love my country and I love my job, and that’s why I do what I do,” he said. “Regardless of the situation, it’s our duty as Americans to serve in war or peace.”
Smith then told a story of a time of peace where he experienced the most rewarding feeling as a soldier. It was just after Hurricane Gustav hit, and Smith and his battalion delivered six tractor trailers worth of food, water and supplies to those who chose to stick it out along the Gulf Coast.
“It was very rewarding to see Americans coming through in need,” Smith said.
He also read aloud a poem written by Charles M. Province (pictured left) entitled “It Is The Soldier” that served as a touching tribute.
The Boys and Girls Club of Starkville also took time this year to remember those who serve America. BGC Director Jeanette Roach had three members of the Air Force speak to the children about life in the military.
“The purpose for having the military personnel come was to stress the importance of leadership, dedication and educational values to the (children),” Roach said. “What I hope the (children) will take away from the experience is that our country is based on leadership and dedication and we must learn to respect it.”
Lt. Col. Robert Reed, Capt. Joel Mitre and Lisa Tkaczyk each told their experiences in the military, and how their lives have been enhanced because of their service.
“We are very honored that the men and women, who serve and protect this country allowed us the opportunity to meet and learn from them,” Roach added.