The Duncan Banner
“I won’t forget the men who died and gave that right to me.” These words, penned by Lee Greenwood in “God Bless the USA” were sung by 230 kindergarten to second grade Emerson Elementary students, thanking guest speaker Ray McCarter and special visitor Marine Sgt. Eddie Diaz for their appearance at Emerson Monday as part of a special Veteran’s Day program.
McCarter’s presentation to the students focused on what it means to be a veteran both past and present and the importance of the veterans on a level that the students would understand.
“A veteran is someone who served in the military and served their country,” McCarter said. “The military is the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Marine Corps.”
He also provided students with a background of the holiday, which has it not always been called “Veterans Day.” Originally, the holiday was called Armistice Day, noting the day that World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1919 and honoring all the veterans from World War I.
“It was called Armistice day until the 1950s when another president by the name of Dwight David Eisenhower decided they wanted to honor all veterans,” McCarter said. “Until then, in 1954, the veterans of World War II and Korean War were not being signified as veterans.”
Today, McCarter said that the military has changed in that servicemen and women are no longer drafted but now choose to serve.
“Everyone who is in the service have volunteered to be there and were not drafted,” he said. “The only ones who volunteer now are the ones who actually want to serve for freedom in our world today.”
McCarter told the children that they too could one day be called upon to serve in the military and possibly fight in a war.
“I hate war,” he said. “Almost every veteran will tell you that. Sometimes it is necessary to go to war to convince all those others in the entire world that we will go to war if our freedoms are challenged. We are so lucky today to be free. A statement that is being told almost daily is that freedom is not free. We have to fight for our freedom. One of these days you will be called upon to fight for our freedom.”
Marine Sgt. Eddie Diaz, father of Emerson student Bella Diaz, concluded the presentation thanking the students for allowing them to come and encouraged the students to thank veterans.
“There are many people that do serve each and every one of you,” he said. “I hope that you take time to thank those people.”
When McCarter and Diaz’s appearance was complete, all 230 students joined together and sang “God Bless the USA” as a show of appreciation for coming to their school.
McCarter served in the Air Force from 1964 to 1969 with a one and a half year tour in Vietnam. Since then, he has remained a well-known voice in the community from serving as the superintendent of Central High schools, Marlow schools and serving on the state’s House of Representatives for 12 years. Since then, he has retired and is now focusing on serving his family. He continues to reside in Marlow but travels the area giving talks especially on Memorial Day and Veterans Day on the importance of the services that veterans have given to this nation.