Veterans salute the colors of the United States as they are brought onto the gymnasium floor.

Students, faculty and veterans from the area packed the Warren C. Cooper Gymnasium at Rowan County Senior High School on Monday in recognition of Veteran’s Day.

The keynote speaker was Dr. C. Nelson Grote, president emeritus of Morehead State University and a World War II veteran.

He spoke on a variety of topics including his time in the Army and the sacrifices his friends made during wartime.

“Many veterans gave the maximum gift of their life so that each of you can enjoy the freedom of going to a great school system and enjoying the benefits of living in a democracy,” Grote said.

During his time of service, Grote was a professional draftsman of military maps. At that point in time, Korea had never been mapped and his unit’s mission was to map every square inch of that country.

Grote said Veteran’s Day is a way to step back from our everyday lives and give thanks to the men and women of our armed forces, both past and present, and to a very special group of people.

“When we honor our military there is another group of people that we need to recognize and commend and that is the military family,” Grote said. “They may be the unsung heroes of war.”

The RCSHS Band performed and the choir sang in honor of the veterans.

Grote said it was an honor to speak to the students and veterans in attendance.

“They need to be honored,” Grote said. “They put their lives on the line.”

Students were also asked to write an essay about Veteran’s Day and, for the third straight year, a member of the Duff family won the essay.

Rebecca Duff, a student at RCSHS, joined her two siblings as contest winners.

In an excerpt from her essay, “What Freedom in America Means to Me”, Rebecca said:

“It means being able to make choices, even if they are wrong sometimes. It means being able to do what you want to do, even though sometimes you know you shouldn’t. But most importantly, it means getting to wake up every morning and appreciating another day in this free country.”

Her father, John, says he could not be prouder of her daughter for also winning the award.

“I’m very proud of her and all three of them did a really good job,” John Duff said. “Their grandfather was in World War II on an aircraft carrier in the Navy and my mother has a bunch of brothers who were in World War II.”

Students and faculty attending the event say they will never forget the sacrifice these and other veterans across the world made for them to keep this nation free.

MacKenzie Bates can be reached at or by telephone at 784-4116.

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