The true definition of patriotism - and what it means to be a patriot living in the United States - was the focus of Col. Gary Lane's address on Friday, Nov. 10, at the annual Veterans Day assembly at Grove High School.

“The true definition of a patriot is one who loves his or her country," explained Lane who spoke to a gymnasium filled with students, faculty, staff and fellow veterans. "Patriotism is the act of the love for your country.”

Lane went on to talk about the price veterans paid, to fill their patriotic duty.

“Veterans fight for and have fought for your freedoms guaranteed by the constitution and its amendments," Lane said, outlining the 10 amendments which make up the Bill of Rights.

“Your veterans and military members voluntarily suspended many of those freedoms while we served in the military for the greater good of the United States," Lane said.

Lane then proceeded to address current events surrounding the nation’s flag.

“Many of us are sadden and concerned by today's current activities which disrespect our nations symbols of the national anthem and of our flag," Lane said. "These are high respected emblems - not of a nation that is perfect, but of a nation that seeks perfection in protecting the equal rights, freedoms and opportunities of our citizens.

“Before rendering judgement of perceived injustices some see within our nation, I would ask if those protesting have ever lived outside our United States and their territories for at least one year.”

Lane went on to talk about some of the injustices taking place in other countries.

“Many other nations do not even come close to the Unites States rights, freedoms and guarantees that our veterans have fought so hard to preserve," Lane said.

Lane wrapped his speech up with a quote from an anonymous author.

“A veteran whether, active duty, retired, National Guard, or reserve is someone who at one point of their life wrote a blank check to the United States for an amount up to and including their life," Lane said, in closing.

More about the assembly

The event, organized by Joseph Wilhelm, GHS band director, was designed to recognize veterans and their significant others.

It took place in the new performing arts center, which sits on the high school campus.

During the event, students greeted veterans at the doors presenting them with a certificate and pinned ribbons on them as a thank you in recognition for their service.

After a brief period in the library, veterans were taken to the High School Commons Area, where they were treated to a breakfast provided by staff at INTEGRIS Grove Hospital, and served by students.

The event was the first assembly to take place in the new performing arts center, which was completed this summer. 

As with past assemblies, volunteers honored each brand of the military and also recognized the placement of the prisoner of war/missing in action table.

Since the end of the Vietnam War it has been customary to have a table set to represent those who are POWs or declared missing in action.

For many veterans it was typical to see this table during their service inside the chow halls, military balls and now at many of their veteran organizations.

Veterans attending the morning’s events ranged from those serving in World War II to the current War on Terror.

William A. Myers, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1943-1946, was attached to the 2nd Marine Division during fighting in the South Pacific was one of the veterans in attendance. 

“I don’t know how it could have been better,” he said about the day’s events. "[It] reminded [us] of what we are and what we could have been if it hadn’t been for our service.”