BLACKFOOT — Students, staff and guests were were humbled and inspired at a Veteran's Day assembly at Mountain View Middle School (MVMS) on Friday. Veterans from past and recent wars were honored and remembered.
Student Jesus Espinoza welcomed the veterans saying, "We cannot and will not forget those who paid the price for our freedom."
Guest speakers were local veterans Staff Sergeant Tony Christensen of the 116th Cavalry in Nampa and Nick Transtrum, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army. Both men shared stories of their deployment in Iraq and encouraged the students to stay united for our country and to be good citizens.
Sgt. Christensen, who was in Iraq in 2004 when Saddam Hussein was captured, addressed the audience first, reflecting on the recent election. "Having the opportunity to vote is a humbling thing when you put it in perspective," he said. "I remind myself of those who sacrificed so much so that we have the opportunity to vote."
Christensen recalled long lines winding throughout the city streets of Iraq when the country's citizens were finally allowed to vote, following the fall of Hussein.
"The voting lines were literally miles long," he said. "Nothing like the voting lines you might see spilling out of the doorways here."
He told a story of a man who carried his sick and crippled wife on his back through the streets of the town, simply so she could have the chance to vote before she died.
Transtrum, who was once a student at MVMS, fondly recalled his days at the school and playing in the band. He addressed the students saying, "I tell you from my heart that I, and the other veterans here today, didn't come here so that you can thank us. What means more to us, is for 'you' to know how important you are to our future."
He went on, "Our sacrifices will be in vain if you don't pick up the torch and carry on. We are counting on you to unite with others to help support this great nation."
Musical and video tributes were presented for the veterans and students Marlee Kofoed, Dylan Fuller and Elizabeth Delezene read their winning Americanism essays.
MVMS principal Todd Lauritsen closed out the assembly thanking the veterans and saying, "I stand humbly before the veterans here with a heart full of gratitude, love, reverence and sadness. I am awestruck at the sacrifices that have been made for our country."
Lauritsen said the Veteran's Day assembly is an annual event at the school, something that the students and staff look forward to each year.