Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Princeton Times

November 11, 2011

Princeton Primary students salute vets

PRINCETON — Veterans from around Mercer County attended a ceremony honoring them for Veteran's Day at Princeton Primary School on Thursday.

The program started with Lori Comer, principal at Princeton Primary, welcoming everyone and Tony Whitlow, a local veteran doing the Pledge of Allegiance. This was followed by students at the school singing “My Country 'Tis of Thee.”

The first speaker of the day was Joe Lilly, a readjustment counseling therapist in Princeton.  

Lilly said, “We work with returning veterans from combat zones. We help them learn how to be a civilian again.”

Lilly also spoke about the effects that post-traumatic stress disorder can have on veterans returning home and their families.

Lilly continued, “If you've been in a war, and seen some of the things that no one who wasn't there can possibly comprehend, I encourage you to come out. This is not just a place for people to tell war stories. This is a place for people to figure out what to do next.”

Lilly also analogized the armed forces as a brotherhood that few people outside it understand.

Lilly ended his speech by saying, “American veterans have put on these uniforms and did what needed to be done to protect our freedoms.”

The program originally started as a way for the students at the school to earn a flag that had been flown over the United States Capitol Building to be placed in their wing of the school.

As part of the presentation, Congressman Nick Rahall presented the flag to the winning group, the kindergarten students.

After the students returned to their seats, Rahall began his keynote address.

Rahall said, “Thanks for all you have done” to the veterans present.

He continued, “Praise cannot be extended enough to our veterans. We really have to stop and recognize what the veterans have done. We need to say thank you to the veterans not once a year but every day.”

Rahall also concluded that “our freedoms are given to us by our veterans.”

Rahall called it a “slap in the face to our veterans” if someone did not vote. Rahall encouraged the children present that when they reach 18, their first action should be to go the courthouse and register to vote.

Rahall continued, “Just remember that we may not be perfect. I know we have a lot of problems, but we are the most perfect system in the world.”

Rahall then offered that the country should be doing whatever it can to help the veterans coming home from the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rahall ended, “We cannot do enough to help our veterans. Last week, I worked with the American Red Cross to sign Christmas cards to our soldiers that won't get to spend Christmas with their families. From what I've been told, it had a big impact. I congratulate each and everyone of you for being here today.”

Rahall then ended “May God bless you and continue to bless the United States of America.”

The ceremony ended with Jonathan and Danny Buckner and Brian Goins performing “Proud To Be An America.”  

— Contact Matt Christian at mchristian@ptonline.net

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