The Veterans Day assembly unites students and alumni in honor and remembrance

Charlie+reading+his+poem+aloud+to+the+gymnasium+as+veterans%2C+students%2C+and+staff+listen+attentively.

Annie Douma

Charlie reading his poem aloud to the gymnasium as veterans, students, and staff listen attentively.

The proud notes of a bagpipe reverberate through the halls of FHC on Nov. 11, 2022. This is certainly a special occurrence—as it should be. In order to properly honor those who have served, the FHC Veterans Day assembly rightfully brings the spotlight to the people who gave up everything for the United States.

Junior Charlie Afman, who has grown up around veterans and learned about them in his history classes, has realized over time how little veterans were respected during certain time periods and wants to honor them now more than ever. 

“It’s been a big change for the veterans,” Charlie said, “especially what we did compared to the Vietnam War back then. So, honoring them today only seems right.”

Although some students may see it as an interruption in their day and interfering with their class time, the lessons the assembly teaches are, arguably, even more powerful than any story told in class. This is especially true for Charlie; as the grandson of a veteran and a speaker at the assembly, this day was especially important for him.

Charlie had his reservations about reading a poem to the entire gymnasium, which was packed full of the entire student body and veterans, but due to some encouragement from his peers and teachers, he made up his mind.

“[AP World History teacher] Brad Anderson made me feel inspired,” Charlie said. “And, my grandpa was a veteran, so I felt like honoring him like this was the right way.”

Anderson is especially attentive to the observance of Veteran’s Day. Because of his extensive knowledge of world history, he knows just how important it is for men and women to be loyal to their country and fight for what they believe in.

For this reason, it is crucial that students are educated about the heroes of our nation. Anderson, as well as giving a speech for the assembly, honors the veterans reverently each year.

We should never forget the brave men and women who answer our nation’s call to serve and served the call to freedom in a special way.”

— Brad Anderson

“We should never forget the brave men and women who answer our nation’s call to serve and served the call to freedom in a special way,” Anderson said. “We are forever mindful of the sweetness of enduring peace that has been tainted by the bitterness of the personal sacrifice.”

Anderson is personally touched by this special day that specifically honors the FHC alumni who have served in one of the branches of the military because he has been surrounded by them throughout his year in the building.

Brad has learned, grown, and taught alongside veterans and their family members; both his former students and former classmates have served. Because it is so close to home for him and his longtime “Ranger Country,” Anderson is thankful that the future generations of Ada, Cascade, and other surrounding communities in Michigan have been kept secure.

“While we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who have endured agonizing pain, deprivation, and death,” Anderson said. “[On Veteran’s Day], our speakers, students, veterans, service members, choir, [and] wind ensemble honor those that lived and have lived in our community—[those] who gave so much for our country.”

One particular community member who shows just how much the lessons learned within the walls of FHC can tide one over through the years is alumnus Michael Tate. He attended FHC for his years in high school, and then enlisted in the Army National Guard and became the Distinguished Honor Graduate of his class. He served as an automated logistics specialist later on before enrolling at Western Michigan University.

While he was at FHC, though, his life was comparable to that of the average high schooler. Tate was involved in much that the school has to offer, especially sports. As an avid football, basketball, and rugby player, Tate prepared for his future by working hard in stressful mental and physical conditions. Even though things didn’t go as planned, Tate was resilient and made things work out for him.

“Looking back at it, the physical conditioning and the mental discipline I learned [at FHC] prepared me for what I would have to face in the military,” Tate said. “I was cut from the [basketball] team [in] my sophomore and junior year. I put in the work and made the [basketball team in my senior year] and was named most improved player that year.”

Obviously, joining the military is an entirely different endeavor than the high school years that everyone experiences; however, Tate used the lessons he learned and the themes from high school to help him through more difficult stages of his life later on.

Tate is just one of the veterans who are integral members of a community. Because of this, it is important to honor every veteran, especially those who graduated from FHC and the surrounding areas. The lessons that are learned today may not be applied to the military, but most certainly will be beneficial later on.

“That experience taught me how important it is to never give up on your dreams—to be resilient,” Tate said. “When opportunity comes your way, take advantage of the situation. No matter what adversity comes your way, make the best of it.”