SHOSHONE — World War II veteran Hal Ross stood Thursday as a recording of the “Armed Forces Medley” played in the Shoshone school gym.
About 500 students, from elementary through high school, clapped and waved miniature American flags.
The national holiday is observed Nov. 11 and this year, it falls on Saturday.
For Shoshone schools, the yearly veterans event is an opportunity to honor those who’ve served, Superintendent Rob Waite told the crowd.
Outside, small American flags lined the grass leading to the gym. Members of Shoshone’s Boy Scout Troop No. 58 greeted visitors.
Shoshone’s sixth-grade choir and high school band performed patriotic songs, and the Mountain Home Air Force Base Honor Guard posted the colors. Veterans in the audience watched, wearing red boutonnieres.
Staff Sgt. Brent Edwards with the 124th Fighter Wing, Idaho Air National Guard, was the guest speaker. He told the crowd it’s important veterans don’t feel forgotten.
“This is one of my favorite times of the year,” he said. “I love that it’s one when the community engages with veterans.”
When interacting with veterans, “we can’t help but be awed by the enormity of what we encounter,” he said, later adding only about 1 percent of the population serves in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Edwards asked the veterans in attendance to stand and the audience applauded. “Thank you for answering your call to duty,” he said.
Edwards told the audience he was lucky all his friends came home who served during the War on Terror. After pausing for a few moments, he was choked up when he spoke again: “not necessarily the same way they left, but they all came home.”
The veterans honored Thursday come from many different walks of life, Edwards told the crowd, but they all show traits such as courage, pride, determination, dedication and integrity, and “serve a cause larger than oneself.”
Whether they enlisted or were drafted, they left their homes to answer the nation’s call of duty, Edwards said, and to defend our freedoms.
And nothing, he said, can replace the hole created by fallen service members.
But “even as we lose troops,” Edwards said, “more are stepping up to say, ‘I am ready to serve.’”