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Veterans are recognized after entering the gym at the beginning of the Veterans Day program held at Halifax County High School on Friday.

Retired Brigadier General Robert Tucker, guest speaker for the annual JROTC Veterans Day program at Halifax County High School on Friday, urged students not only to honor veterans of all wars, living and deceased, but also not to forget those still missing in action.

“Some of those friends are still with us, sharing in the challenges of peace, just as they did their duty in wartime,” said Tucker, a 1972 graduate of Randolph-Henry High School and a Liberty University graduate. “Others we shall never see again, but they especially are here with us in spirit as we honor all veterans. I emphasize all veterans, not just the war veterans but everyone regardless of when they served. Those who served in times of peace wore the uniform. They were trained and ready to answer a threat.”

Tucker explained it’s important to honor our veterans, because their sacrifices in the name of peace and freedom have made the United States what it is today.

“Veterans represent the millions of American men and women who have served the republic for over 200 years,” said Tucker, a Legion of Merit and Bronze Star recipient, as well as a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, where he served in Afghanistan.

From the beginning, soldiers were just citizens not seeking personal gain or fame, Tucker pointed out.

“Their country called, and they answered,” he explained. “Theirs was a simple, patriotic response. They recognized their duty and acted accordingly.”

The United States has been blessed with citizens who have taken their civic responsibility seriously and have taken up arms and marched to the sound of drums whenever and wherever the rights of man have been threatened, Tucker told the assembly.

Freedom has a special meaning for those who have fought for it, he added.

“This unquenchable thirst for peace and freedom lies deep within the heart and soul of Americans, and it is what makes us unique among the people of the world,” said Tucker, pointing to people throughout the world who live where there is no or limited freedom.

The Halifax County JROTC color guard presented the colors, cadet Major Zakri Clark gave the call to order, cadet Victoria Montes Bradley sang the National Anthem, and cadet Jasmyn Cole led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Cadet Lt. Colonel Clinton Grinan introduced the guest speaker, and Dr. Mark Lineburg, school superintendent, gave closing remarks.

The Halifax County High School band offered a patriotic selection during the program.

The program ended with a ceremony at the flagpole in front of Halifax County High School, where the American flag was lowered to half-staff in honor of Veterans Day, and memorial wreaths were laid.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.