[This article was written by Mount Si High School senior, Michael McCall]
If you’re like most people I’ve talked to, on either side, it is easy to feel bitter about the entire last year of politics. If you were and are a passionate supporter, I congratulate you. That isn’t how it was for most, though. The general consensus for kids at Mount Si about election day was: “Thank God that this will be over.”
The results stopped mattering to us that much. We just wanted it over. How some might have felt after it was over is another story, and not the point of this. November 10th, at Mount Si, we had our Veterans Day assembly. I don’t think a single person in there thought about the election for a second during that hour.
At the beginning of our assembly, we stood for the national anthem, performed by the Mount Si Choir. Then, the veterans in attendance introduced themselves. There were veterans of World War II, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iraqi Freedom, and more. We were in the presence of heroes, and everyone respected that. We were completely silent for the entire assembly, a rare occurrence at Mount Si assemblies. We were in awe.
Senior Owen Roche spoke about his experiences with his father, who served overseas for over a year. He gave us a small glimpse of what it is like having a parent fighting overseas. Shortly following his speech, senior Austin Ross spoke about his father as well. Everyone in the crowd felt the emotion in his speech and the embrace he shared with his father. I now know that it isn’t something that I, or anyone who hasn’t experienced it, can pretend to understand.
The Fallen Heroes Project was started when I was an 8th grader at Snoqualmie Middle School by fellow students. Since then, we have all known of artist Michael G. Reagan, and the work he does, thanks to teacher Thomas Burford and fellow classmates. Michael Reagan, a Vietnam veteran, spends his time creating portraits of fallen soldiers, and sends them home to their families, free of charge. At the assembly, we learned more about him and the work he does. He shared stories of losing friends, and of how much the work means to him. He sends parents, brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives back their loved ones in his portraits. He told us that he looked at their faces, and even though he didn’t know them, he loves them. If you would like to take part in the project and make a donation, please visit https://www.fallenheroesproject.org/.
Our focus that morning was shifted over from the anger and annoyance we had felt during the election cycle, to what really matters: the people who actually represent the best of what this country has to offer. It was the best assembly our school has had. The people who selflessly defend our rights are heroes. Their importance cannot be overstated, and the respect they deserve from all of us is immeasurable.
Through student speakers, and the speeches of veterans, any divisiveness felt was gone, and that was the point of that hour, and of this day. We aren’t supposed to feel like democrats and republicans, we are supposed to feel like Americans. What we are supposed to do in this country, is see ourselves as Americans first. Our political views should be farther down the list of things we use to identify ourselves. Today, don’t be a Trump supporter, don’t be a Hillary supporter, be an American, and go thank the people who allow us to have separate views in the first place.
“From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother” (Shakespeare, Henry V).
Happy Veterans Day.