Hilton students honor area veterans

By on November 18, 2019
Merton Williams Middle School students spoke at the annual Hilton Veterans Day Ceremony at the Hilton Community Center. Shown are: (l-r) Tyler Reed, Natalie Hoyt, Austin DeLorme, John Ulreich, Bree Maibohm, Skylar French, Giana Mastin and Joshua Nowacki.

Merton Williams Middle School students spoke at the annual Hilton Veterans Day Ceremony at the Hilton Community Center. Shown are: (l-r) Tyler Reed, Natalie Hoyt, Austin DeLorme, John Ulreich, Bree Maibohm, Skylar French, Giana Mastin and Joshua Nowacki.

On November 8, Merton Williams Middle School students, and elementary students from Quest and Village Schools, along with local veterans, participated in a moving ceremony at Hilton Community Center to honor those who have served our country. Merton Williams Middle School Teacher Pam Tenny, who organizes the event every year, welcomed those in attendance and spoke about “service, honor and respect.” “These three words are why we’re here today,” she said. She gave several examples of veterans and their heroic acts, and introduced one of those veterans, Robert Rapone.

Rapone, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, served two tours in Vietnam as a paratrooper and ranger doing reconnaissance missions. Thirteen men in his Brigade received the Medal of Honor and some did not make it home. “That is sacrifice…and for what? For you,” he said. “I think I can speak for every veteran here. We did it for you, for the young people of the United States of America.” Rapone also brought along his service dog Casper, who he received through America’s VetDogs, to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veteran Robert Rapone speaks at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Hilton every year, giving students a perspective on what it means to be a veteran.

Veteran Robert Rapone speaks at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Hilton every year, giving students a perspective on what it means to be a veteran.

Eight students from Tenny’s eighth-grade social studies classes also spoke about what the day means and their family members who served. “Some veterans experienced the tragedies associated with war on the battlefield, while others may have used their skills to help from home,” said Natalie Hoyt. “No matter their role, the efforts of each and every veteran play an important part in defending our freedoms.”

“When thinking about my family’s service, I asked myself why did they voluntarily serve?” said Austin DeLorme. “Was it for glory? Self-betterment? No, neither of those things. It was for service to their country and our democracy.”

“These personal and first-hand accounts of war are rarely ever recorded or told,” said Giana Mastin. “So if you don’t know, it can’t hurt to ask. These stories shouldn’t be lost in history as each and every veteran’s story is important.”

The ceremony concluded with a four-gun salute and the playing of taps. Afterwards, students gave the veterans handmade cards, shook their hands and thanked them for their service.

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