By Jocelyn Pedersen
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — With flair and fanfare, the Noble High School Band opened the school’s 2012 Veterans Day assembly under the direction of Fred Queen. Patriotic music soared in the gymnasium filled with veterans, their families and guests, faculty, staff and students.
A multimedia presentation celebrating the armed forces ended with Radney Foster’s rendition of “Angel Flight,” in which the lyrics depict the sentiments of those who fly veterans who have given it all for their country home to their final resting places.
First Lt. Tanner Summers, USAF, addressed the crowd to honor those who “dedicated unselfish service” and willingness to pay the price of freedom with blood.
“Freedom is not free,” Summers said. “We are all beneficiaries of those sacrifices.”
Summers thanked veterans for their service and their simple love of America. Quoting Elmer Davis, he said, “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”
Summers said Taylor Morris, a 23-year-old Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, was one example of bravery. Morris, while in the line of duty in Afghanistan in April, lost all four limbs when he stepped on an IED.
Summers recounted that Morris remained conscious throughout the ordeal and asked medics to refrain from helping him so they would not be injured as well. Taylor, who earned a Bronze Star, was brought home to Walter Reed Hospital in May and is now learning to walk and dance using prosthetics.
In closing, Summers quoted Chief Tecumseh, who said, “So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.”
Two students read the names of veterans assembled at the school, including some of their own teachers. Veterans with tours of duty ranging from two years to 30 years served from the 1940s to the present.
The crowd rose to its feet in a standing ovation when Principal Frank Solomon, along with Dustin and Drew Mullinix, presented a high school diploma to Dale Bryant, who served in the U.S. Infantry in the Philippines from 1944 to 1946. The Mullinix brothers nominated their friend because he left school as a senior to join the Army prior to graduating and receiving a diploma.
Solomon said many veterans didn’t get their diplomas because they chose to leave school and serve their country.
“Oooh wee,” was all an emotional Bryant could muster after receiving his diploma. In a written statement, Bryant said he felt “honored. I have been a Noble resident for over 40 years and all of my children have attended Noble Schools. (I) appreciate the opportunity to be recognized.”
Bryant’s family members Becky Smith, Lynn Yeager and Gail Means were in attendance. Yeager said Bryant “was on the active line and they made him go back because he was only 17 years old.”
Dot Lee, school registrar and co-organizer of the event, said, “I think this is the most important assembly we hold every year. As Americans, we want to remember what those in the service have done and do, so that our students can live the lifestyles they choose to live and have the freedoms they have.”
The band drew tears from the crowd as they played taps followed by “Oklahoma.” A reception for the veterans, their families and guests was hosted in the band room. Donations to soldiers were collected to give to the local Blue Star Moms group.
The assembly was organized by Solomon, Queen, Lee, the PTSA, student council seniors and sponsor Kim Krohmer.
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