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'Humbled' Willard students honor 200 veterans

Cary Ashby • Nov 9, 2017 at 11:00 AM

WILLARD — Nearly 200 veterans received an energetic and sustained round of applause from the students Wednesday.

Willard City Schools honored the men and women from all the military branches during its first Veterans Day program. As the veterans filed into the Robert L. Haas Gymnasium, the high school band played a medley of military marches.

“On behalf of Willard City Schools, we are honored and humbled to have you here this morning,” WHS Principal Chris Schaaf said.

The program featured a variety of musical performances.

The WHS symphonic choir sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” After students Addie Corder and Kalin Mills folded the American flag, junior Gabe Sanchez performed “Taps.”

Kindergarten through fifth-grade students sang “God Bless the U.S.A.” The seventh-grade choir and orchestra performed “American Heroes” and the eighth-grade choir sang “Land of Liberty.”

After the national anthem, kindergarten students led the crowd with the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I am privileged to say thank you to all our American veterans,” WHS history teacher Curt Storts said.

“The price of freedom is high,” he added, telling the crowd not to forget those veterans who have paid that price.

WHS English teacher Courtney Carnahan, who helped organize the program, introduced Huron County Sheriff Todd Corbin, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was the main speaker Wednesday. Carnahan said she was honored to introduce Corbin, who carried a soldier to safety over his shoulder while being under “intense fire.” 

Corbin, a lance corporal, and his wife met then-President George Bush during a breakfast at the White House upon receiving the Navy Cross, the second-highest award for Marines. Corbin was honored for his bravery and saving the lives of fellow soldiers during Operation: Iraqi Freedom.

The sheriff said it was “such an amazing feeling to be here with my brothers and sisters in arms.” He encouraged veterans to be “pillars for our community” and the students to “respect the best of our society,” allowing veterans to lead the world where it needs to be.

Corbin also asked the vets to “step up, reach back and pull someone else along.”

Seventh-grade student Naomi Schag shared her speech, “America’s Gift to My Generation.” She participated in the Patriot’s Pen competition.

Willard Mayor Todd Shininger, who served in the U.S. Air Force, also spoke.

Students honored each veteran during a mail call when they announced their first and last names and branch of the military he or she served. The teenagers thanked each person and presented them with a certificate and gift.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t thank Miss Carnahan and the kids for putting this together,” said Willard City Manager Jim Ludban, who served in the U.S. Army. “You make me proud.” 

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