Ronald Welker got off work from third shift at Innovairre an hour early Thursday morning for the Veterans Day breakfast at Mt. Pleasant Community High School. Welker felt pretty special to be invited by his granddaughter Kaitlyn Wade, a freshman.
Wade said she invited her grandfather to the high school’s second-annual Veterans Day breakfast because she loves him, and it was a good chance to spend time with him one on one.
“(My grandchildren) usually go running and hiding when I’m talking about wartime because I can get a little long-winded,” Welker said. Wade didn’t mind listening Thursday morning, however, as the two sat in the high school cafeteria enjoying omelets made to order by the culinary students.
The only thing that would have made a perfect morning even better would be pancakes and bacon, Wade said jokingly.
About 40 veterans showed up Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7 a.m., for breakfast with their family and friends and to hear a performance by the high school’s Chamber Choir.
The Veterans Day breakfast at the high school was launched last year by Language Arts teacher Jessi Rich, a veteran herself. The school district Rich worked in before moving to Mt. Pleasant held an annual Veterans Day meal, and Rich saw an opportunity to start one in Mt. Pleasant.
“I think maybe we don’t do enough in the school (to honor veterans),” Rich said. “It’s important to connect kids to what the community is doing … I think kids enjoy it because they get to invite service members they know.”
Greg Schurbon was invited by his granddaughter Amanda Schurbon, a junior at MPCHS. Lately, Greg said his granddaughter has been asking a lot of questions about his time serving in the U.S. infantry because they are covering it in history class.
“The heat, mosquitoes, people living in straw huts, people dying and getting injured. I lost a few friends,” Greg said, who served in the military from 1965 to 1970. “Sharing is getting to be old hat. I know what to say without going too far. The horrors of war is something you live with your whole life.”
Greg said that events like the high school’s breakfast are a good time for veterans to tip their hats to one another as well. “I think it’s a good thing,” Greg said.
Jeff Cleere, who was with his daughter sophomore Jamie Cleere and his son freshman James Cleere, echoed Greg’s sentiment, saying it’s always good to see veterans get together.
Art Tousignant, State Representative for the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, said while some veterans don’t like getting into the details of their service with civilians, talking with other veterans who have a “point of reference” can be therapeutic.
Tousignant, who was invited by “adopted” granddaughter for the morning by high school senior Alexandra Gerling, said that, nonetheless, it’s always good for students to recognize Veterans Day.
“As veterans, we don’t forget, but in schools I don’t think they speak a lot about what Veterans Day is about,” Tousignant said. “I’m just honored to be here.”
Gerling, who welcomed veterans by handing out ribbons as they arrived at the school, said she wanted to give back to veterans because many of her family members are veterans as well.
Culinary students who spent the hour before classes started Thursday making fresh omelets for the service members agreed it was the least they could do to show their appreciation to the service members.
Dalton Stearms, a senior who is studying culinary arts, said that cooking takes a lot of effort, time and it’s always worth it to make someone happy and show you care.
Junior Raven Corder volunteered her time to cook Thursday to honor her brother who is serving in the National Guard. “Breakfast is the least we can do,” she said.