RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Many children learn lessons about World War II, Viet Nam and Korea in classrooms. But ahead of Veteran’s Day some students in our area are learning a much more valuable lesson about the servicemen and women who fought for our country.
At McGuire Veteran’s Hospital in South Richmond more than 46,000 patients seek treatment every year. On this day the hospital paused to honor all of those who have served.
It’s a civics lesson one group of students were not going to miss. It is a chance to rub shoulders with American warriors. The JROTC members from George Wythe High School, like Malcolm Muhammad, are learning by example.
Malcolm says, “I’m pretty proud and happy knowing I’m doing this for the veterans here today. I feel pretty honored right now surrounded by veterans and sacrifice their lives for me to make a living.”
McGuire Veteran’s Hospital pays homage to the men and women who selflessly served their nation at a ceremony inside the hospital.
Viet Nam veteran and Marine veteran Bruce Steely from Mechanicsville says, “They want to honor us for the sacrifices we made and it’s encouraging to know that we have people that feel that way.”
All branches of the military were represented at the ceremony inside the massive hospital. Strapping U.S. Marines in uniform stood next to graying veterans in wheelchairs.
86 year-old U.S. Marine veteran, Johnny Mills fought on Okinawa and Guam in the South Pacific and lost several friends during WWII. Mills says, “There were more men lost on Okinawa than any other battle of WWII. We’re free and we wouldn’t be that way if it weren’t for the veterans.”
Whether wounded in action or serving during a time of peace all veterans are honored each November 11th. It is a time to show a deep debt of gratitude.
Viet Nam veteran Bobby Tisdale was wounded in battle in 1968. He says, “It doesn’t matter what branch you served in. The thing is you took it upon yourself to think about your country and serve.”
For the youngsters attending they say the veterans are still serving in a way - as role models.
Ivory McCoy with the JROTC program at George Wythe High School says, “Because they fought for the country and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here.”
These aging soldiers and Marines beam with pride especially knowing what they offered of themselves does not go unnoticed by younger generations.
Tisdale says, “It is important for them to know about the past because it’s going to affect them in the future.”
U.S. Marine veteran Bruce Seeley says, “I’m just very proud to know that there are young people in this country to make that sacrifice.”
17 year-old Malcolm Muhammad wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. “Just to say ‘Hey, Thank you. I know you lost your leg and I know you lost your arm for me. But thank you.”
Following graduation Malcolm Muhammad intends to join the Army special forces. Thereby joining a special fraternity of past, present and future veterans.