‘It’s a great day to be an American, and it’s a great day to be a soldier.’
By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.
SHELBY – Brigadier General Axel Johnson III delivered a powerful speech during the Veterans Day program at Shelby Middle School Monday, Nov. 11.
Johnson, who worked as a local educator, gave the students an important history lesson. Several local veterans and community members who also attended the program listened intently to Johnson’s words.
“It’s a great day to be an American, and it’s a great day to be a soldier,” he said. “Over 40 million have served so that you can be here today.”
“You’re our future veterans,” he said to the students.
Johnson explained the difference between Memorial Day, which honors those who died in active military service, and Veterans Day, which honors all veterans. It is a day held on the anniversary of the end of World War I (Nov. 11) to honor US veterans and victims of all wars. It replaced Armistice Day in 1954.
“On Veterans Day, we celebrate all the veterans,” he said.
“That’s why history and social studies is so important to you kids — so we never forget.”
Johnson said over 5 million American soldiers served during WWI and more than 17 million US soldiers served in WW II, which then triggered the introduction of the GI Bill. “We became the most powerful nation in the world.”
“I remember when World War II ended,” he said. “All the church bells were ringing, and people were crowded in the streets.”
The Korean War, in which 5 million American soldiers served, has been called “The Forgotten War,” the general said. “It was a cold, miserable war.”
Over 9 million Americans served in the Vietnam War, which raged on from 1964 to 1975.
The general then continued through US history, speaking about the Cold War. “It was a war of economics,” he said. “These were scary times.” However, “democracy defeated communism.”
The US military is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with over 170,000 of its active-duty personnel serving outside the United States.
Johnson gave the students a homework assignment to thank the veterans in their families and in their communities. “Tell them you appreciate them,” he said.
“Honor the veterans by doing the very best you can in school. They gave it their all for our country, and you should give your all in school.”
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