Clarke Community Schools held Veterans Day programs on Nov. 10 at both the high school and elementary. The high school’s guest speaker this year was Lieutenant Richard Bucklin, retired, of the United States Army.
The program began with an introduction and brief history on Veterans Days, followed by a slideshow of what Veterans Day means to different teaching staff.
The Clarke Chamber Choir sang the National Anthem as the American Legion Davis Pence Post 69 posted the colors.
When Bucklin took the stage, he began by wishing the Marine Corps a happy birthday (Nov. 10), and opened with a quote by General George Washington, given in 1793 to his troops:
“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country.”
“It may seem like a short walk up here to the podium today, but it took me nearly 20 years to get here,” said Bucklin.
After thanking Jesus, his wife, friends and soldiers, Bucklin stated that despite having been asked before to speak at Veterans Day programs, he had chosen not to. He said it is an unwritten rule among veterans not to talk about ones service, as veterans see it as something that had to be done, and only occasionally talked about amongst each other. Bucklin said it is the price to be paid for wars, paid to spare others from it.
Keeping with that tradition, Bucklin spoke not about his time in the service, but instead shared knowledge he had acquired along the way.
“...It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or how the doer of deeds could have done better,” Bucklin quoted Theodore Roosevelt.
“Be without fear, whether you’re confronting a bully and exposing their yellow streak, or taking one of Ms. Bucklin’s government tests, let fear not enter your heart,” said Bucklin.
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide…When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home,” a quote from Shawnee chief Tecumseh.
Bucklin encouraged those in attendance to be humble, and to do the right thing even when no one is looking. Do something that is less-than fun everyday, for that is when you find out who you really are. Don’t negotiate with evil, but drive it back to where it belongs - in the shadows.
Bucklin also shared some words with America’s enemies,
“There are those who would say that America is in decline and that our nation will not prevail. I would like to say to them - don’t bet on it,” said Bucklin, adding that Arlington National Cemetery stands as atestament to the price that Americans are willing to pay to preserve the nation.
He closed with a quote by Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient,
“We don’t want war. But if you want war with the United States of America, there’s one thing I can promise you, so help me God: Someone else will raise your sons and daughters...”
After Bucklin’s speech, the choir sang the Armed Forces Medley as members representing each branch stood. Trumpet students AJ Hendrickson, Cole White and Therran Zak performed Taps and Mr. Shane Stephens read the veteran roll call of Clarke School veterans before the ceremony closed.
The guest speaker at the elementary school was Gabe Crawford, who spoke to third, fourth and fifth graders about how the mantra of the Marine is similar to that of Clarke’s OneTribe mantra, in making good choices and following those norms.