PHS hosts Veterans Day program

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Veterans in attendance at Pleasantville's Veterans Day celebration. (photo by Steve Woodhouse)

The annual Pleasantville High School Veterans Day celebration may have been delayed due to weather, but it was nonetheless poignant.
All students from the district, as well as staff, community members and several veterans, packed into the PHS gym Tuesday morning, Nov. 12, for the event. Ralph Dyer, age 91, was recognized as the eldest vet in attendance. Special recognition was also offered to Brian Simpson, PHS Class of 91, who has a long and distinguished career in the military.
Kasey Mitchell welcomed everyone on behalf of the students, followed by Jason Anthony, who provided the official welcome. Katie Collins treated everyone to an outstanding rendition of the National Anthem.
From there, the program included poetry and the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Paul and Maggie Gasparovich. Dance Team members then carried in the flags of military branches individually with the branch’s theme song playing. Veterans were asked to stand when their representative flag took center stage. The flag procession concluded with the Prisoner of War-Missing in Action flag, for which a moment of silence was held.
Veterans Day has its roots in the end of World War I, which officially ended on Nov. 11, 1918. One year later, Nov. 11 was proclaimed Armistice Day. Pleasantville lost four in WWI – E.B. Summy, Arland Orcutt, Dean Butcher and Ralph Metcalf. Each of them was recognized.
Heath DeForest edited a video of Pleasantville area veterans, playing over songs by Toby Keith and Billy Ray Cyrus. DeForest said the photos were submitted, and he would like to add more to the 2020 presentation if emailed to him.
Third grade students wrote letters to veterans, which they personally handed to them with hugs and handshakes. Fifth and sixth grade students wrote thank-you cards with personal artwork, also personally presented.
Retired PHS Band Director Dan Stecker struck a nerve with everyone by playing “Taps” on the trumpet to close out the ceremony. PHS Principal Gary Friday officially closed the event by saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Veterans earned a standing ovation from everyone.