Chad Sayre started the Veterans Day assembly at Platte County High School four years ago, intending to create a meaningful event for students and community members.
In a new addition to the proceedings, the school’s principal coordinated an enlistment ceremony for two seniors going into the Air National Guard. Maj. Becki Restrepo of the Air Force administered the oath for Sara White and Skylor Parrett during the hour-long assembly held Friday, Nov. 10 at Platte County High School.
White and Parrett were able to make their commitment in front of classmates, friends, family and veterans in attendance.
“My very first year here as principal, this (Veterans assembly) is something I felt the community needed to do,” Sayre said. “We’ve been doing this for four years now, but I will tell you this (enlistment ceremony) is probably the thing that had the most impact on me because I’ve only seen it done one other time at the high school.
“We want to make this a tradition at Platte County High School.”
In comments to White and Parrett, Sayre added: “No matter where you serve, remember your journey started here in front of your friends and family.”
Platte County’s fourth Veterans Day assembly again included plenty of musical performances from student vocalists and band members plus a local veteran delivering a keynote speech.
Platte County trumpeters Tiler Brooks and Josh McKeague supplied a moving rendition of “Taps,” while junior Ryan Lett played “Amazing Grace” on the bag pipes. The Platte County Traditions band also delivered the annual armed forces salute, veterans stood to be recognized when the song for their branch of the military played.
In between, retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Devon Bradley spoke of his tours of duty in Iraq, the injury he suffered in an IED explosion and his attempt to leave treatment early to rejoin his unit. Sayre asked him to speak about what being a veteran means to him.
Bradley is the father of 2017 Platte County graduate Alissa Bradley and current students Abby Bradley (freshman) and Addison Bradley (middle school).
“It means to join the Marine Corps before the age of 21,” Bradley said while being moved to tears during his remarks. “It means saying goodbye to your wife and kids in 2003 for your first deployment. It means watching your kids grow up via letters, pictures from the fox hole afar.
“It means in 2004 once again saying goodbye to your wife and two kids and going to Iraq. … It means saying goodbye once again going to your third tour to Iraq this time to your now pregnant wife and two kids. It means deploying with 40 brothers to not have 19 of them return.”
Bradley received a medical retirement from the Marines after 10 years from injuries suffered in his third tour of Iraq. His experiences were a big part of what he said it meant to be veteran.
“It means struggling to relate to your friends when you return home,” he said. “It means watching the evening news feeling guilty you’re not there. It means counting the days until you can get back with your Marine brothers every November 10th.”
After Bradley’s speech, Parrett and White took part in the enlistment ceremony, and students Danielle Major, Bailey Newell and Claire Wilhelm closed the afternoon with the Platte County Jazz Band in a performance of the iconic World War II song “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” originally recorded in 1941. U.S. Army Col. Paul Schmidt, Wilhelm’s father, also spoke during the event and watched from the stage during the upbeat musical, vocal and dance number.