Alta High students donned their best dresses, skirts, pants and ties on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 but they weren’t going to Homecoming or getting gussied up for a dance. Instead, students chose to dress up for a special Veterans Day assembly during which they honored members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
About 30 veterans many of them grandparents of Alta’s student body officers attended the event, which featured Stan Ellsworth, the gregarious host of BYUtv’s original history series “American Ride.”
“This is a highlight of the year,” said Bridger Pennington, Alta’s student body president, said as the entire school filed into the gymnasium for the assembly. “It’s important we honor the people who really served our country. We haven’t earned our freedom these people really earned it for us.”
Alta High started the Veterans Day assembly in 1995 when then-student Tyler Perry approached the school’s administration with the idea. Student leaders are now in charge of planning the assembly, and they started working on inviting community veterans, Ellsworth and other participants months ago. Coming full circle, Perry attended Monday’s assembly and sang “Oh, America” an original song he penned to pay homage to patriotism.
Traditionally, the Veterans Day assembly took place once every few years, but at Principal Dr. Fidel Montero’s encouragement, Pennington says the school plans to host the assembly again next year. Plans have been made to make the event an annual tradition at Alta High.
“For me personally, this day means a great deal,” Montero told his students and the veterans in attendance as he described his family’s immigration to America. “Our future is bright and I can tell you our students are ready to go out and make an impact on the world.”
The veterans in the audience including several former Alta High teachers were members of the Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, Army and Navy and they served during the Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq War and World War II, to name a few.
The assembly took an emotional turn as Ellsworth, the keynote speaker, spoke to students after riding in on his rumbling blue-and-chrome motorcycle. Ellsworth is host of the BYUtv series “American Ride”, which focuses on historical events from America’s history.
“I hate it when I cry,” Ellsworth said as he thanked the veterans for their service. He quoted “The Star-Spangled Banner” and told students the importance of the freedoms Americans enjoy.
“Never forget that what we have was given to us by those that went before,” Ellsworth told students. “You are the future. Remember the fallen. Remember those who served. Remember the title you bear: citizen of the United States of America.”