BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Clarkston Junior High students and staff took Veterans Day to a whole new level with their annual event, honoring a local Navy veteran who served in World War II.
David Daily lives in Clarkston and has grandchildren (Elizabeth Martinez, 2006, and David Martinez, 2009) that graduated from Clarkston High School.
“As their teacher, I meet with my students to discuss ideas and plan,” said CJHS ELA teacher and Veterans Day event coordinator Erin Shaw. “The students write their own speeches and decorate with their own ideas. They make the ceremony and reception happen. Once the ceremony begins, I am just an audience member. This year, my students were very touched and moved by Mr. Daily’s life story. The things they are learning about World War II in their history course were experienced and lived by Mr. Daily. They understand and respect that. I am proud of them for valuing and honoring Veterans in such a beautiful way.”
Daily was stationed on the USS Anthony during the war and made it home to his late wife, Avril. A slide show presentation in the CJHS Performance Arts Center was part of the ceremony, which was attended by the student body and dozens of local veterans and veterans related to students at the school.
Ninth grade students Keira Tolmie and Regan Hakala spoke at the event on the meaning of Veterans Day.
“We still give thanks through ceremonies and speeches at schools and other public venues every year on this day,” said Tolmie. “At 11 a.m., most Americans take part in a moment of silence for those who fought or continue to fight for the freedom of our country. In addition to this one holiday, the importance of Veterans Day is essential to our continued patriotism as a nation. The more we can recognize these individuals, the more our youth will understand how lucky we are to live in true freedom and safety.”
“Imagine a world without these heroes,” added Hakala. “What if they did not fight these wars? What would our country look like today? Would we be able to walk these streets freely? Would we be able to pride ourselves as Americans? I honestly do not think anyone would want to imagine America without our veterans. How can we celebrate veterans? We must remember them every single day, we must appreciate them every day, and we must be grateful for their efforts every day.”
During the event, a stone was presented in honor of Daily. Each year, CJHS students place a stone in honor of a veteran in the Jenna Beno Memorial Courtyard.
“This is our ninth year doing the tradition – there are nine other stones in the courtyard currently,” Shaw said. “We prefer for the stones to honor Clarkston grads, but this year, we had the desire to honor a World War II Veteran and looked for a Clarkston resident that was a veteran of World War II.”
The stone makers include ninth graders Katherine Speer, Katie Haar, Trisha Verbeke, and Paige Szerlong, in addition to CJHS art teacher Kevin Breen.