By T.J. Hug
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Area Veterans were treated to far more than just the meal prepared for them at a Veterans’ Day breakfast put on by the students and staff of Fayette High School.
The breakfast began with the veterans being addressed by Senior Class President Dylan Stannard. In his opening remarks, Stannard thanked those present for their service as he welcomed them to the school. Proceeding his speech, the brother and sister duo of Jonah and Haley Perdue sang an inspiring rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, with guitarists Tony Stiles and Zach Ordway accompanying.
Following a prayer by senior Liz Maginn, everyone was treated to breakfast. Senior students studiously moved from table to table, refilling drinks and disposing of trash for their most honored of guests.
During the meal itself, a skit was performed by Stannard, Jared Robben, Skylar Lantz, and Justin. The four boys marched out in front of the crowd, carrying red, white, and blue folding chairs as though they were military rifles. They then enacted a routine where they “presented” said chairs to the veterans, hoisting them over each shoulder, spinning around, and finishing the routine by opening and sitting in them simultaneously.
At the conclusion of the breakfast, the kindergarten class gave their own special tribute to the veterans. Brooklyn Harris read a thank you speech, while her class came together to sing a song for the servicemen and women.
Afterward, each of the youthful students went into the crowd, giving self-made thank you cards to veterans.
With the breakfast finished, the room emptied into the gymnasium next door as all junior high and high school students were summoned for a Veterans’ Day Assembly. The Veterans themselves were the last to enter, receiving a standing ovation from students and staff alike as they took their seats in the center of the gym, facing their supporters.
Stannard served as host of the assembly, introducing each portion of the program. First, Leah Bussing recited the poem, “Why God made Veterans.” Following the poetry, the school choir and band performed, and quite beautifully at that.
One of the most moving moments of the ceremony, however, was the setting of The White Table. A tradition used to honor the sacrifices of those who were left behind or Missing In Action, The White Table has become a symbol of love and respect for veterans that are, just as much as veterans that would be.
The table is round, to signify the concern for the missing is unending. Meant to display the purity of serving the country, the tablecloth is white. A single, solitary rose is placed in a vase at the table’s center, reminding all who see it of the lives of the missing, as well as the families who still await answers to their fate. The vase itself is tied with a ribbon, to represent the determination to account for those who have yet to be found. On a bread plate, a lemon sits, in memory of the bitter fate shared by those captured in a foreign land. A pinch of salt shows the tears of both the missing and their families. Faith also plays a role in the ceremony, represented by a bible on the table.
A lone glass on the table is turned upside-down, as those for which the table is set will not be able to partake in the meal. Likewise, the chair remains empty, tilted in some cases, because the missing cannot fill it.
The table was set by Paige Keefer, Adrianna Hibbard, and Justice Reyes. Narrating the table setting was Kamrin Hunter, who read the story of a ten year old learning of the ceremony so that she could honor her uncle, who had lost comrades while serving his country. Many of the veterans watching teared up at the sight of the table as their meaning was emphasized by the story.
Three sophomores were selected to read essays they had written under the topic of why veterans are important. Ethein Malchow, Austin Lopez, and Paige Aschemeier cited several reasons why this is the case, ranging from the defense of our country to motivating future generations to take up arms for that very cause as well. Aschemeier, in particular, got emotional near the end of her speech, as she asked anyone within earshot where they would be without veterans.
The assembly came to an end after Bob Keiser was presented with a check for the American Legion, amounting to roughly $500 raised by the school. Keiser expressed gratitude for the donation.
With that, the assembly was over, and things returned to their usual fare for everyone. Yet the memory of those who’ve served, even the ones who didn’t return home, will continue to live on in each and every one of those students.
T.J. Hug can be reached at