DE GRAFF — Riverside Local Schools honored veterans in the area with a breakfast and assembly on Monday on Veteran’s Day.
“It’s a lifestyle, it’s a whole different way of life. You give up a lot. It’s hard to make plans for your future when you never know what tomorrow is going to bring. When we look at our veterans sitting here, or out in the community, really take time to appreciate everything that they do, because they do it every day,” Guest Speaker Scott Stewart said to a crowd of junior high and high school students, as well as veterans.
Stewart’s speech stressed the importance of teaching kids about veterans and all that they have done and continue to do for the community and the country, and showing veterans in the community appreciation for the sacrifices they have made. While Stewart himself is not a veteran, his lack of service pushed him to find ways to show veterans how much he and other people appreciate all the sacrifices they have made. One of those ways arose when he started coaching in Riverside.
“I saw something in the paper one day about this veterans group that had started in Shelby County. They were putting together trips for World War II, Korean and Vietnam veterans. It was a chance to take them on a trip for three days and to honor them, and to let them see the memorials that they had never been able to see. I thought, you know, this would be a great way to get the kids involved in community service and to also go and help out. So we did a couple of small fundraisers, and we presented them with a check,” Stewart said.
Through his time volunteering for that veteran’s group, they organized 11 trips to take veterans in the community to Washington D.C. He then became inspired to start one for veterans in Logan County. Since then, the group in Logan County has gone on four trips to D.C.
“We go to, primarily the veterans memorials, and it’s just a chance to honor them, and show how much we respect them, Scott said. “We are the lucky people. We are the lucky ones for being able to be part of that. The things and relationships you build, and all the stories you hear from these veterans, it’s incredible. Veterans are regular people who do extraordinary things.”
Michael Allman, of DeGraff, began his service in the Army Guard in Bellefontaine before serving in the security police within the Air Force for four years.
“It really is something I felt like I needed to do at the time. I wasn’t drafted, I just went in voluntarily. I thought I could learn more out of it. I’m not any more special than anybody else,” Michael said.
He was also inspired to enlist, in part, because of his father’s military service that spanned 24 years. Oaky Allman was also in attendance with Michael at Monday’s assembly.
“I was a wild, West Virginia hillbilly boy that got kicked out of school, and I went in the Army and they straightened me out,” Oaky said. “It was difficult at times. I had different jobs, and in Vietnam I was in Military Operations, that was quite a bit different. I did whatever they needed me to do.”
Oaky was one of three parade marshalls to the Veterans Parade that began in Riverside’s cafeteria and lead through the halls, into the gymnasium. Other parade marshalls were Don Wiggam and Mike Madden.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.