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Tehachapi High School students gather to honor Tehachapi veterans

Tehachapi Teens

Every November, Tehachapi High School (THS) students gather for an assembly to honor the brave men and women who have served their country and protected our freedoms.

Immediately after entering the doors my fellow students and I realized that this assembly was going to be a powerful celebration of our nation's heroes.

With red, white and blue balloons forming a tall rendition of the American flag and a foam sculpting of an equally patriotic-colored eagle hanging from the ceiling, it was clear that the Associated Student Body (ASB) team had put an incredible amount of effort into transforming our school gym into a source of pride for the entire student body.

After we found our seats on the bleachers, our local veterans entered, prompting a powerful standing ovation from all attending. Following this emotional display of gratitude, the U.S. Marines brought our flag center stage for a beautiful rendition of the "National Anthem" given by THS senior Anna Howell.

Principal Cristina Libatique then introduced each veteran individually, inviting them to stand, and read the details of where each member had served, from Vietnam to Iraq. Students cheered as their relatives, teachers and community members stood, regardless of age or injuries, to be applauded for their service on this proud day of remembrance for our community and country.

Continuing the ceremony, Tehachapi Police Chief Richard Standridge took the mic and delivered a moving keynote speech in which he recognized the bravery of veterans in protecting our freedoms, ending with a challenge to, "stand up for what's right."

After the speech, ASB members rolled a projector onto the stage and began playing a photo presentation honoring both our local heroes and veterans throughout the nation who have served our country. With "America the Beautiful" playing in the background, we saw slide after slide of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to safeguarding our way of life. Principal Libatique stood and gave a final speech thanking the veterans for their service.

As my classmates began to pour out of the gym, with many stopping to shake hands or hug the veterans present, I reflected on the importance of showing gratitude to those who have sacrificed their blood and lives on our behalf and what it truly means to live in the land of the free.