WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — On Friday morning, the Miami Trace Local School District held a program at the high school auditorium to commemorate local veterans and recognize the students who excelled at the Americanism government test.
This student-led program is held annually at Miami Trace to commemorate Veterans Day.
The event began early on Friday, with breakfast served to the veterans at 8:30 a.m. in the high school cafeteria. Miami Trace students gracefully waited on the veterans’ tables to show their respect and admiration. The veterans, along with the rest of the MT student body, were then sent to the auditorium to find their seats before the ceremony began.
To begin the ceremony, the audience was invited to stand for a pledge of allegiance, which was followed by a patriotic performance by the MTHS Choir.
The event was led by Ed Helt, a Korean Conflict veteran and retired firefighter. Helt was recognized by the American Red Cross as a hometown hero, and is a member of the Central Ohio Commission on Aging Hall of Fame. Helt explained how the Americanism Test works through a series of government-related questions and one essay question used as a tiebreaker each year.
“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,” said Helt.
Before continuing with the Americanism government test results, Helt asked the veterans in the audience to stand so they could be recognized for their service. He also recognized the Fayette County Honor Guard for their relentless dedication to honoring veterans, in any weather, at their funerals.
Helt then announced the school test winners; 10th grader, Jake Hicks, 10th grader, Annabelle Eggleton, 11th grader, Justin Thompson, 11th grader, Kilee Holt, 12th grader, Blake Steele, and 12th grader, Kaley Moser.
The students were presented their awards by the commander of the American Legion Post, John King, and Elaine Stallsworth, a past commander of Post 25 and present commander of a local post.
Between the three local schools — Miami Trace, Washington C.H. and Fayette Christian — there were six county winners, and one of those winners was one of Miami Trace’s own, 12th grader Justin Thompson. Thompson’s score and paper will be sent to the county and district for additional judging to hopefully be considered as a candidate for the all-expense paid, five-day trip to Washington D.C.
Helt then invited Miami Trace High School Principal Bryan Sheets to the podium to accept an award of active participation in the Americanism government program.
Next, two Miami Trace students introduced an honored veteran and special guest, Edwin Arthur Rumer. Rumer began building wooden gun models early on in his school years, before following in his father’s footsteps and joining the National Guard at 15-years-old.
“My mother really wasn’t too happy about my father joining the National Guard in 1941,” Rumer joked. “Then when I joined,” he added with a chuckle, “she really got mad at him.”
Rumer’s mother was afraid her son and husband would be going to war, however the military had other plans for Rumer.
While in training, Rumer earned a special stripe on his uniform for being able to take a gun apart and put it back together faster than anyone else in his unit. Rumer went on to earn his first award while serving, which was a shooting medal he was presented with after entering a competition with four other men in the unit.
According to Rumer, if World War II had continued for another month, then he and his unit would have served, however the war ended on Sept. 2, 1945, preventing Rumer from going to war.
When asked if he would’ve gone to battle if it was needed, Rumer, a volunteer, told the students he would’ve gone “without thinking twice about it.”
“When I go to the grocery store or other places, people will come up to me and say ‘thank you for your service, sir,’” said Rumer, “and I feel a little hypocritical because I didn’t actually have to fight in the war like the men I associate with.”
Rumer went on to explain how his other veteran friends who had “most likely recommended him” were service members who “actually went to battle,” and that some of them came back wounded both physically and mentally. Rumer explained that because he had not gone through all of what his veteran friends had went through, that he felt “unqualified” to be celebrated, even though he was a “government signed veteran.”
“I was a volunteer,” explained Rumer, “so I wasn’t being paid and didn’t have the benefits that regular veterans do, but that’s alright. Just the fact that I get to call myself a veteran – that satisfies me.”
The audience was then invited to stand and recognize Rumer for his selfless service, as the 93 year-old stood elated, wiping tears from his eyes.
Sheets closed the ceremony by thanking the veterans and their families for their protection and service.