In honor of Veterans Day, Desert View Intermediate School held its second annual Veterans Day Salute last week.
The event was organized by Desert View’s music teacher, Joshua Brink. This is the second year Brink organized an event honoring America’s veterans. This year’s ceremony was held in the Page High School gym.
The hour-long ceremony began with a flag ceremony performed by Boy Scout Troop 7911 and included short speeches from several Desert View students, as well as patriotic musical performances from the Page High School band and choir. Page Middle School music teacher Alex Moore performed taps on his trumpet.
Part of the ceremony included a “singing flag” where Desert View students and teachers dressed in red, white and blue shirts. They gathered in the high school bleachers, divided in groups dressed in red, white and blue, and performed songs between speeches.
Long-time Page resident and veteran Amanda Hammond spoke to the students about the honor of serving her country in the armed forces. Hammond is a major in the Army National Guard. She has served from 2002 to present. During her long military career, Hammond served in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2007. She was also stationed in Guantanamo Bay from 2014 to 2015. Hammond was also the grand marshall in Page’s Veteran’s Day Parade last Friday.
“It makes me happier to have someone wish me happy Veteran’s Day than happy birthday,” she told the crowd.
Hammond said she is proud of her service and the sacrifices she has made to make America a better place. One of the big highlights of Hammond’s military career has been the other people she has met and helped during that journey.
“I’ve got to help some of them accomplish their own goals, and in return they have help me accomplish mine,” she said.
Working to preserve American democracy and freedom are the principles behind Hammond’s desire to serve in the military.
“It’s the idea of serving our country, no matter what our beliefs are about politics or the economy,” she said. “I’ve dedicated my life to fight for everyone else’s opinions and protect our freedom to continue to be a democracy. It's not about my beliefs but ensuring the right that everyone else can express their beliefs.”
Hammond says it’s also important to remember the sacrifices made by the veteran’s families.
“When we recognize veterans, we also need to recognize the families behind them. It’s not easy for them to give up a family member for months or years at a time, so they can do what they need to do.”
While having his students prepare for the Singing Flag portion of the ceremony, Brink used the “teachable moment” opportunity to give his students additional instruction about Veterans Day and the reason the U.S. sets aside a day every year to honor its veterans.
“I want the students to understand why they get a day off of school,” Brink said. “It’s important for them to appreciate our veterans and the sacrifices they have made for all of us.”
Brink had his students bring in photos of the veterans in their families. He ended up receiving 54 photos of family veterans, and he turned them into a slide show that he shared with his students and their families.
“It became pretty clear that our families are very proud of their veterans, and it was great to give them a platform to share that,” he said.
Brink got the inspiration to do a Singing Flag honoring veterans from Nina Frank, a music teacher he worked with in a Florida school district prior to coming to Page.