Photo by Lorie Palmer
World War II veteran Bernie Golz of Grangeville waves to the students of Grangeville High School during the Veterans Day assembly Nov. 11. Golz moved to Grangeville with his wife last year to be nearer his daughter and son-in-law, Wendy and Ted Lindsley.
As of Tuesday, November 18, 2014
GRANGEVILLE — How many of you juniors and seniors here have a plan following graduation?” Jared Everson asked students at Grangeville High School.
Everson, an Army veteran of the Iraq War, spoke at the Veterans Day assembly Tuesday, Nov. 11, at GHS.
“If I could speak to any group, this would be the one, you guys,” he told the students. “Because you’re in that mode to make plans,” he said.
“No one has ever asked me to talk about my service in the military or time in Iraq,” Everson choked up. “It’s kind of hard.”
He said he graduated high school in 2005 and had “no plan.”
“So I decided to sign up for college. Why not?” he shrugged. “Then I found out they wanted more than $3,000 so I could start taking classes and it hit me pretty hard. I didn’t have that. What were my options?”
Growing up in a small town in southern Idaho, Everson thought he might like to see some of the world, so he enlisted.
“I was stationed in South Korea and Colorado,” he said. “About a month before I was to get out, my battalion commander came to me and said I needed to make a choice: Go ahead and leave the military or be deployed to Iraq. I decided no one was going to hand anything to me. I needed to make my own way. So I stayed.”
“While I was in Iraq I saw the best of humanity and the worst of humanity … all in the same day,” Everson held back tears. “War makes you grow up quickly.”
“I served and I am thankful for it,” he said. “I finished my stint in 2010. I have a good life and job and it’s all because I made a plan and I stuck to it. Remember, ‘if you don’t know where you’re going in life, how will you know when you get there?’”
Students and the public offered Everson a standing ovation. Veterans present – more than 60 – were recognized, honored with flowers from students and cookies from the Eagles, and many were presented with Quilts of Valor from the local quilting guild.
A selection of students’ quotes on the meaning of Veterans Day were read and the GHS band played and Varsity Blue Choir, under the direction of Kathy Stefani, sang for the event.
“To honor veterans every day, there are several things you can do,” GHS history teacher Pat Sullivan, who helps organize the ceremony, told students. “Earn an education. Be honest. Work hard. Help others. Love and support your family. And always do the right thing, even if it hurts.”
Students made a human tunnel at the tunnel and veterans exited through it, receiving thanks, handshakes and hugs from the kids.