Morning News â€” Bob Hudson
World War II veterans Lewis Johnson (left) and Elvin Lyon greet one another following a Veterans Day assembly at Firth High School on Monday.
From 120 to 130 veterans were honored at the Veterans' Day assembly at Firth High School Monday morning.
"It's an honor to see this many veterans come support us," said Stewart Portela, assembly organizer and Firth military history teacher. "I appreciate the veterans and the community helping.
"I think that's the best program we've ever had," he said.
Firth graders at Firth Middle School thanked the veterans by singing, "Thank You Solder!" The choir was accompanied by the Community Orchestra.
The piece acknowledged being able to sleep in peace, "knowing all is well," because our veterans are "keeping watch, protecting shore to shore, in the air and oceans, too."
The chorus states:
"Thank you, oh thank you, Men and women brave and strong -- To those who served so gallantly."
Lt. Col. Erik Knutsen was the featured speaker. He served in the Idaho Army National Guard from 1987-2009. He currently is in the Army Reserve serving as an instructor for Command and General Staff Officer College in Orem, Utah.
"Besides marrying my wife and religious experiences, being in the military was the best thing I've ever done," he said.
"I want to highlight two groups of people," said Knutsen. "The first group is the spouses that stayed at home.
"The spouses staying at home are under stress, waiting for the phone call or knock on the door with the news her soldier is missing in action or has died," he said. "We owe so much to our spouses who stood behind the veteran."
The second group are the Vietnam veterans.
"We were brought home to fanfare," said Knutsen. "The Vietnam veterans served in an unpopular war.
"They were told, 'don't wear your uniform;' and 'don't say where you've been so you don't start a fight,'" he said. "They were turned down for jobs."
"We, as a nation, owe these individuals much," said Knutsen. "Within the last five years, Vietnam veterans have started receiving thanks for their service.
To the students, he said, "We are a great nation.
"We have given so much," Knutsen said. "The only land we have taken in other countries is land to bury our dead. This is a great place to grow up.
"May God bless America."
Firth student body president Coltyr Brewington read a letter from former President George W. Bush.
"Veterans have borne the cost of liberty," the letter stated. "Twenty-four million veterans are living.
All contributed to the character of the country," Bush said. "[Veterans know] freedom is not free."
"It was a very good program," said veteran Ken Thomas from Iona.
"It means an awful lot to me; the student body was great," said Marine veteran Jim Grimm.
"It's great to see the vets," said Army vet Pat Kearney from Shelley.
Firth students said:
"[The assembly] was really cool; it was awesome," said Kasidy Belnap.
"It was really neat," said Brinlee Denney.
"It was really remembering for everything that has been done for us," said Jisel Martinez.