Marcus Larson/News-Register
Duniway Middle School honored veterans with an assembly Monday morning. At the conclusion of the assembly, students line up to shake hands with the visiting veterans.
Marcus Larson/News-Register Duniway Middle School honored veterans with an assembly Monday morning. At the conclusion of the assembly, students line up to shake hands with the visiting veterans.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
After the assembly, Duniway Principal Cathy Carnahan and students talked with the veterans in the library about their experiences serving in the military.
Marcus Larson/News-Register After the assembly, Duniway Principal Cathy Carnahan and students talked with the veterans in the library about their experiences serving in the military.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Veterans tell students to be kind, respectful

“Freedom is the biggest thing,” the Navy vet said. “Really contemplate that.

“Freedom of religion ... freedom in the way we live ... that will be in your hands soon. I know you’ll take care of it.”

Asquith was among about 20 veterans honored at the assembly. And students gave each the chance to pass on some advice.

Peggy Lutz, a Navy air traffic controller during WWII, told students the military taught her to respect authority. “Rules are there for your benefit,” said Lutz, who has great-grandchildren attending the school.

Chris Seiber, who has a grandchild at Duniway, told students about his more than 20 years in the military, first with the Marines, then with the National Guard. He served in Japan, Korea and the Philippines, and more recently did two tours in Iraq. 

In the military, he said, you are honor-bound to treat everyone with respect.

“I always said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to my soldiers,” said Seiber, a member of the American Legion Riders. “I didn’t just order them around.”

He explained his thinking by pointing out, “An act of kindness goes a long way.”

Respect also was an important lesson Tony Estrada learned in the Air Force. Estrada, who has a son at Duniway and two older daughters who are joining the military, reminded students to show respect to everyone, including “your teachers, your parents and each other.”

Brian Caster, who has daughters at Duniway and McMinnville High, said he learned gratitude during his 19 years in the Army. He told students, “Be thankful for what you have. Other countries don’t have what we have.”

Larry Pedersbeck, an Army vet who also belongs to the Legion Riders, a motorcycle group, said almost anyone would benefit from a stint in the military. “It’s a great thing to serve your country.”

Before veterans spoke, several students told the crowd about the importance of those who serve in the military.

Since this country began, Kaylani Kam said, soldiers have been ready to defend it. They’ve shown courage and set an example of a good work ethic, said Kaylani, whose father is a vet. Their service “reminds us to be thankful ... for school, for our routines for life.”

Veterans Day is much more than a day off from school or work, student Ailie Johnson told classmates as the assembly began. Rather, it’s a day to honor those “who served to keep America free,” she said. 

To mark Veterans Day, Ailie suggested, students could wear ribbons, display the flag or “just say ‘thank you for everything you’ve done.’”

She and her fellow Duniway students did just that during the assembly, thanking the veterans in the office again and again. Afterward, students escorted vets to the library for an open house.

First, though, they clustered around them, expressing thanks. Lutz, one of the 350,000 women who served in the military during WWII, drew many girls who were eager to shake her hand.

Mac High’s Symphonic Choir performed, in addition to the Duniway choir and band.

Principal Cathy Carnahan welcomed veterans, thanked them for their dedication and held them up as inspiration to her students. She also accepted a battalion coin from Philip DeMontigny, commander of an active duty battalion based in Springfield. 

DeMontigny, who has a son at Duniway, has been in the Army for 20 years and been deployed overseas five times. While the military has taken him all over the world, “one of the coolest things I’ve done is with the National Guard,” he told students.

“The Guard supports missions at home,” he explained, noting that he and his soldiers have helped with the recovery following Hurricane Katrina, helped fight forest fires and done other community service.

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