By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Students honor veterans

Marcus Larson / News-Register
The county Veterans Honor Guard retire the colors at Patton’s assembly. Music by Mac High’s symphonic choir also was featured, along with “Taps” played by Linfield band director Joan Paddock.
Marcus Larson / News-Register The county Veterans Honor Guard retire the colors at Patton’s assembly. Music by Mac High’s symphonic choir also was featured, along with “Taps” played by Linfield band director Joan Paddock.
Marcus Larson / News-Register
Patton Middle School students applaud loudly and at length for more than 40 vets and current duty military members who attended their annual Veterans Day assembly Thursday morning.
Marcus Larson / News-Register Patton Middle School students applaud loudly and at length for more than 40 vets and current duty military members who attended their annual Veterans Day assembly Thursday morning.

The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders clapped at length, continuing the standing ovation for a whole minute. Veterans beamed, and some wiped tears from their eyes.

“This is awesome!” said ex-Marine Larry Giddings.

His daughter, Army vet Christie Giddings, agreed.

“It’s amazing ... an emotional thing for us,” said Christie, who has a brother, Tim, in the Marines. “Seeing these little ones remember veterans ... it means a lot.”

Patton has been honoring vets at an assembly each November since 2005. Teacher Scott Phoenix, a veteran himself, started the event; other teachers have been carrying on the tradition since his retirement.

With teachers’ guidance, students planned and ran the assembly. They made posters and signs for the walls — “Cheers to Our Vets,” “Without Veterans, There Would Be No Light,” and numerous variations of flags and U.S. symbols in red, white and blue.

They also assembled a slide show featuring veterans related to Patton students and staff members, which played continuously throughout the assembly. It showed photos and brief biographies of many vets, such as Air Force veteran Ronald Jones, father of Jessica Jones, and Marine vet Robert Wilson, father of school counselor Jeremy Wilson.

Several Patton staff members were on the list of vets as well, including assistant principal Debbie Hilfiker, teacher Emily Clark and custodian Gary Spath.

Students Annie Clayton, Gretchen Sorenson, Nick Payton, Evan Ewing and Ben Sparrow spoke during the event.

“Veterans sacrificed for the comforts we enjoy. They’re extraordinary people,” the speakers said. “We owe our freedoms and our very lives to veterans. We our our vets support and friendship. Let no one ever question what they’re worth.”

The Patton band and the McMinnville High School Symphonic Choir performed during the assembly. Linfield College Professor Joan Paddock played “Taps” as the county Veterans Honor Guard retired the flags.

Marine Col. Waye Clemner wore his dress uniform to the assembly. He thanked students for their efforts, which he said were in stark contrast to the grudging at best, hostile at worst welcome he received when he returned from serving in Vietnam.

“To be here seeing this generation thanking us ... it brings tears to our eyes,” the colonel said. 

Several other schools also are inviting veterans to events in their honor.  

Duniway Middle School’s Veterans Day assembly will start at 8:40 a.m. Monday. Dayton Junior High’s will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, with a breakfast for vets followed by an assembly. McMinnville Christian School has a program and brunch planned at 9 a.m. Thursday.

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