‘Thank you for your service’


On Thursday, Fayette Christian School (FCS) held its annual Veterans Day program for local veterans.

Veterans were first treated to a continental breakfast beginning at 10 a.m. Rick Melvin, principal at FCS and army chaplain who currently serves in the Army Reserves, thanked the veterans for attending the breakfast and encouraged them to stay for the program.

A short time later, the freshmen at FCS entered the room and accompanied the veterans, chatting with them while they enjoyed their meal.

High school history teacher Carole Pontious spoke about last year’s winners.

“We had three students from Fayette Christian who were recognized as state winners last year for the Americanism program sponsored by the Ohio American Legion, and the Ohio American Legion Auxiliary. They were Walker Hill, Ryleigh Tooill and Emily Barker. Those winners joined 18 in the whole state to go on the Washington DC trip. Representing Post 25, they went on a five-day trip in March to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in addition to Washington DC. The students toured historical sites, such as Gettysburg Battlefield, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veteran Memorial, the US Holocaust Memorial, the Kennedy Center, and the State Department. A combination of the tour was the laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington Cemetery. Our very own Walker Hill from our school, was honored to be chosen to lay the wreath along with another student.”

Pontious then spoke about sophomore Emily Stollings.

“A very special award was issued to our sophomore Emily Stollings. As a freshman, she had the opportunity if she was a state winner to win an all-expense paid trip to the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge. Her essay, ‘Why we need to honor and respect our veterans’ won state honors in her grade division. She recently attended the Spirit of America Freedom Summit Leadership Conference just last week.”

Stollings had prepared a presentation for those in attendance but was unable to be there due to illness.

Melvin then announced that the program would be starting soon in the sanctuary and encouraged everyone to head in that direction.

Once inside, those in attendance were led in the Pledge of Allegiance by Rick Melvin and then were treated to a lovely rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” sung by Michelle Melvin.

Pastor Tony Garren led the congregation in prayer, followed by the third graders at FCS coming onto the stage to recite the Preamble to the Constitution. Guests then enjoyed a patriotic selection by the FCS High School speech class, before the introduction of the Americanism Test winners. According to representatives, the goal of this test is to inspire young people to learn more about government, the United States and to appreciate the freedoms enjoyed by American citizens.

Ed Helt spoke about the Americanism Test.

“The Americanism government test program consists of a 50-question test developed by American Legion personnel at the state level based on the United States and Ohio flag, United States Constitution, the American Declaration of Independence, and all branches of government including federal, county, city, and even school board government.”

Helt then announced the six winners from FCS, which were Emily Stollings, Gannen McDaniel, Luke Wright, Allison Barker, Kaleb Bauman, and Hannah Fuller.

Once these students received their awards, the FCS High School choir gathered on the stage to sing “Salute to the Armed Forces” for the audience.

Melvin made his way back to the stage to give a brief message to those in attendance. He spoke about a phrase that is very special and important to him.

“I do want to talk to you briefly this morning about a phrase that has become a part of our country’s vernacular. This is something that has become part of our everyday speech. It is a phrase that I began using as a teenager, anytime I saw someone in a military uniform, or wearing a veteran’s hat. This is a phrase that I began hearing personally 10 years ago, when I commissioned into the United States Army. Perhaps you have said this phrase yourself, and no doubt, you have heard this phrase hundreds of times. Here’s the phrase: ‘Thank you for your service.’”

He finished, “This phrase is important for many reasons. First of all, it is a phrase that reminds us veterans of our service. It reminds us that whether we joined willingly, or whether we were drafted to serve, we did just that. Our service comes with sacrifices. It does not matter if it’s during times of war or peace, whether we’re stationed in a foreign country, or we spend our time here in the United States, whether you serve as part of the active military or in the reserves of the National Guard. One thing we know is that there are sacrifices in serving. It also is an important expression of thanks from a grateful nation. As I said before, most people will never put on the uniform, but it doesn’t mean that they are so far removed from those of us who do. They make a connection by personally thanking veterans for their service.”

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