Calvert Catholic Schools students paid tribute to U.S. veterans Monday morning with an assembly to honor their dedication, achievements and sacrifices.
The Veterans Day event was organized by Calvert freshmen, with oversight from teachers Paul Jones and Dave Kraft, and included slide shows with glimpses of the military's conflicts, poems, music and a historical overview of the battles faced by veterans since the inception of the country.
Kraft, who teaches technology and yearbook at Calvert, said Jones, an English instructor at the school, began leading the Veterans Day assembly when he came to Calvert two years ago.
Kraft said Jones is a Vietnam veteran, and he "brings a lot of special things to the kids."
"He teaches from experience," Kraft said, "and he gets the kids involved."
Kraft said Jones truly understands the importance of freedom, and strives to impart that understanding.
"He's a humble man," Kraft said.
Calvert students were responsible for greeting veterans attending the event, speaking in various capacities throughout the program, creating presentation materials and helping ensure the technology involved in the presentations ran smoothly.
Veterans were thanked for their roles in protecting our country's freedom and were noted as "a distinguished group of Americans."
Ed Kimmet, a Vietnam vet who attended Monday's program, was asked to speak during the assembly, and presented "Vietnam - Through the Eyes of a Veteran."
Kimmet shared photos of his days in the military and stories of his experiences, and asked a student to read a letter he had written to his parents while he was deployed.
Kimmet also presented a display of memorabilia in the Calvert auditorium for students and other guests, which included more photographs, medals, dog tags and an American flag. A Purple Heart, which Kimmet was awarded for his service, also was on display.
"A number of students don't know what a Purple Heart is," he said.
Kimmet said he has never considered himself to be a hero, but simply a veteran who was "just doing my job."
Kimmet, together with veterans Joe Feasel and Joe Hartzell, all of whom are members of Tiffin VFW Post 2858 and 1967 graduates of Calvert, presented a new flag to Calvert High School during the program on behalf of the VFW post and the 1967 graduating class. The flag was raised following the assembly.
Jones also had the opportunity to speak to students and guests during the Veterans Day program, and read two poems he had written that addressed his time in Vietnam. Jones said he wrote the poems, titled "From Here to Saigon" and "A Conversation with a Spider," as a way of dealing with the anger he felt about the war.
Also in attendance was Alec Traxler, a 2009 Calvert graduate who is an active-duty member of the National Guard 37th Infantry Division. Traxler, who was deployed in Afghanistan, said when he returned home from that deployment, Vietnam vets in the area gave him and other soldiers "the welcome home they never got." Traxler said he is very appreciative of the support of veterans.
The program concluded "Amazing Grace" and a standing ovation for the veterans in attendance.