Kilgore Middle School students, staff and faculty honored our nation’s veterans at their annual Veteran’s Day Program Friday, Nov. 8.

The program included speeches by students, patriotic music, a video presentation and the presentation of the flags of the United States, Texas and all branches of the U.S. military.

The event began at 9 a.m. in the middle school gym as the KMS Student Council presented information on the history of the U.S. military and each of its branches.

The KMS Wind Ensemble played “The Star-Spangled Banner” as students carried in the flags of the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. They were followed by an honor guard comprised of Kilgore Police Department Sgt. Richard Stanley carrying the American Flag and Kilgore Fire Department firefighter Kaisee Warren carrying the Texas flag.

This was followed by the pledge of allegiance to both flags and a brief video, created by KMS Communications students, which included interviews with veterans.

KMS student Emma Kate Bailey presented a recognition of veterans segment, recounting the history of America’s wars. Veterans stood and were applauded by all in attendance.

After the KMS Wind Ensemble played “God Bless the USA”, student Catherine Delane introduced the event’s speaker, Maj. Jeff Marshburn, who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1989 as a military police officer, earned the Special Forces Green Beret in 1992 and also served as an instructor and Tactical Officer at West Point. In 30 years of military service, Maj. Marshburn saw combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, North Africa and Yemen, earning awards both abroad and in the U.S. He is now a member of the Longview Police Department.

“Veterans Day is a special day in our great country and I wanted to share my thoughts of what it means to be a veteran from my perspective,” Marshburn said.

He reflected on his first military assignment in Germany in 1989, when he said he did not imagine one day joining the ranks of the older veterans.

“To me, at that time, as to many of you today, veterans were just a bunch of old guys, worthy of respect for sure, but old guys who seemed very focused on the past and I was the one looking forward to the future. Our country was not at war then and these old veterans had participated in things I had only read in history books.”

Later in life, while going through training for a war he did not know he would join, Marshburn said he “began to understand how veterans, who came before me and my generation of warriors, paved the way for our success in Afghanistan, Iraq and in wars yet to come.”

Seeing the events of 9/11 let Marshburn know it was time for he and his fellow generation of soldiers to step up and become veterans, he said. With these soldiers alongside him, Marshburn experienced war, days without food or sleep and spent time in some of the most inhospitable places on the planet.

“Veterans sacrifice everything. They sacrifice their time, holidays, birthdays and unfortunately, sometimes they even sacrifice their own lives. They do all this for the simple idea of ensuring that everybody in the world has a better place to live.”

Marshburn’s speech was followed by the KMS Girls’ Choir singing “America the Beautiful”, with a solo by student Imari Williamson.

The event was followed by a reception for veterans in the KMS library.

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