On November 11th, 2002, senior Holly Huntley gave the following speech to a crowd of approximately 5,000 people who had gathered at the Riverside National Cemetery to celebrate Veterans Day. Holly had been chosen to be the student speaker for the day having after being involved in King High Remembers in her junior year. Holly was a 2003 graduate of King High School and a 2007 graduate of Cal State Fullerton. She worked for five years at Air Force Village West, a military retirement community in Riverside and is currently working and living in Los Angeles.
Holly Huntley – Veteran Day Speech – Nov. 11, 2002
Thank you very much for giving me the honor of being here and for the opportunity to pay my respect to all of you people who are seated in front of me this morning.
It is a bit sad to think that most adolescents are using this time as I speak to sleep in and not attend school rather than utilizing Veterans Day as a time of remembrance and appreciation for the people who chose to serve our country.
I reluctantly, but wholeheartedly, admit that I was once one of those kids. I understood our country’s history and our struggle for peace: both my grandfathers, my uncle and my brother all served in different branches of the military: but I truly never endeavored to comprehend what it meant for a person to bring themselves to that and how their decision has had an effect on my life. There are millions of youths out there who are ignorant to the importance of our country’s veterans but if they had even a glimpse of what they would learn, would be eager to do so.
Luckily, I was given that chance. About a year ago, my high school held a program put together by my history teacher, Mr. John Corona. it was more successful than anybody could have imagined. We called it “King High School Remembers” in which history students, including myself, interviewed veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War. that introduced me to a world I had never dreamed of stepping into. You know, yo read about an event or watch it in it’s Hollywood versiion, but that does even compare to having it in front of you. to see, to touch and speak to living history..it was incredible.
There are countless history books, encyclopedias and other sources that edify our country’s history, but what we kids really strive for; what reaches deeply into our hearts and ur minds is you. You veterans-you war heroes, every single one of you have stories from your life that may seem ordinary to yourself but what you don’t realize is what an effect that those stories can have when told to an unknowledgeable student like me. You hold within your mind a treasure so momentous that is beyond the boundaries of my understanding. it is vital for you to realize what it means to young people today when we get a glimpse into your life.
Weither the military ran in your family’s heritage: whether you joined because it seemed the best alternative during rough times: or whether you had no choice when you received that draft card, what distinctly matters is that you did it. You put your life on the line. You gave up your body and soul to protect the security and the sanctity of America. It requires such a high amount of bravery and dignity for a person to put themselves on the line. that is why I owe you, we all owe you
people, our respect and our thanks, as citizens of the United States. Just as we need the air to breath, our country needs the never-failing dedication and devotion of our veterans.
Today I am currently working at Air Force Village West. I am sure that most of you are familiar with it as a military retirement community just down the street here and I cannot tell you how proud I am to be part of these people’s lives. To work among them and assist them every day is an honor. this is why I strongly wish to spread my knowledge and new understanding of all of you who have served our country to other young people like me. I wish to teach the answer to that question that is so often asked and seldom answered properly: “What is the significance of Veterans Day?”
Was it meant to praise and recognize all that have become a part of America’s past or is it recognize those people and allow them to teach us of what it is we need t know about ourselves. We are familiar with the phrase “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” it is essential to understand our country’s background and to always look to the future. Obviously, we did not expect September 11th to happen, but look how we dealt with it. We had not experienced something as devastating since Pearl Harbor, but we found a way to keep our hearts beating and they are now beating with further pride in the Red, White and Blue.
Therefore, we have learned from you and will continue to learn from all of you. You are the keys to our past,and our guidance for the future. We have all of you veterans to thank for showing us the path towards ending up victorious as we have always done. Standing here alone, I want to thank you in a voice that speaks for millions of young people across this country. Thanks you for giving us your memories, your lives, your blood ,your sweat and your service. You are our history books. let us turn the page and begin a new chapter for our next generation to strive for peace. For all of you who have stood to honor the United States of America, I am honored to stand in front of you today. Thank you and God Bless.