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Colton High School students and staff honor local miliary veterans during recent all-school assembly

Colton High School students and staff acknowledged local military veterans with an all-school assembly Thursday, Nov. 10, in the gym. It was put on by the CHS freshman class under the guidance of language arts teacher Amanda Hanson.

Each veteran was escorted into the gym and introduced. The honored veterans in attendance were: Leslie Ash (Army), Jon Bricker (Army), George Carroll (Marines), Ron Cook (Army), Del Decristoforo (Army), Robert Dutton (Air Force), Lonny Johnson (Coast Guard), Ron McIntosh (Army), Mike Moore (Air Force), Jose Rodriguez (Army), Ted Seifert (Army) Bill Simmons (Navy), George Smith ( Air Force), David Wallace (Army), and Ernie Winterton (Navy).

COURTESY PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - Colton High School Veterans Day keynote speaker Lonny Johnson talks to the crowd.

Speakers from the freshman class gave the history of Veterans Day and of each of the U.S. military branches. Near the entrance to the gym was a small table set for one. Freshman Ray Baurer explained the traditional meaning behind the different settings on what is known as the Missing Man or Fallen Comrade Table.

"The table is set for one, symbolizing a missing or fallen service member," Baurer said. "The white tablecloth represents the purity of their motives when answering the call to service. The single rose in the vase symbolizes the blood that the service member sacrificed to ensure freedom. The red ribbon around the vase represents the service member's love of country. A single slice of lemon on the plate represents the bitter fate of the missing. Salt sprinkled on the plate represents the tears of the waiting family. An inverted glass represents the fact that the missing cannot partake. The empty chair represents the absence."

A moment of silence was held for all those missing in action, prisoners of war and fallen military members.

Keynote speaker, former Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Lonny Johnson, was introduced by his granddaughter, Lydia Brinkley, who said it was great to be able to honor her grandfather who served for a long time and was getting special recognition.

Johnson was born in Colton in 1939 and served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1957 to 1978. Johnson shared memories of his time overseas and his duties in communications and law enforcement. He included some fun stories from his military days.

Following his talk, the CHS band played the "Armed Forces Medley" by Michael Sweeney and shared a thank you video. The honored veterans were treated to a pastry table, coffee and juice.

"It was our pleasure to honor our veterans and all they have done," Baurer said. "It meant a lot to our freshman class to set it, and we wanted it to mean as much to the veterans as it meant to us to do it for them."

When asked how the freshman class identified local veterans to attend, Justin Dutton said, "We first asked everyone in our school if they had veterans in their family. Then we went through the list of those who had attended in past years and we contacted the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). Then formal invitations were sent out."

"So many of our students have family that have served or are serving in the military," Amanda Hanson said. "It is important to take the time to pause and think about those who have served and are serving our country. The freshman class really enjoyed learning about the history behind this holiday, the importance of it and the honor of doing their part to show a small token of appreciation."

The morning ceremony was well received by the assembled honorees. Mollala VFW Cmdr. Jose Rodriguez said what makes America great is "all of us."

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