MAHOMET -- Paying tribute to veterans was the order of the day across the Mahomet-Seymour school district on Monday, in observance of Veterans Day, and students did so with song, videos of thanks and more.
At Mahomet-Seymour Junior High, a World War II veteran was scheduled to speak at the school’s assembly but was ill and could not attend. Army National Guard Captain Joel Jessup, who graduated from Mahomet-Seymour in 1999, stepped up to serve.
Active in the arts in high school, but not athletics, Jessup was inspired by a friend to join the military. He was deployed to Iraq in 2000 for “Operation Desert Spring.” After 9/11, the National Guard began to focus on more than community support – going overseas to relieve troops in Germany, for example, Jessup said.
Since June of 2004, he has worked full-time for the Guard. He was active in seven different armories around Central Illinois before, in 2008, he left for duty in Afghanistan. He was gone for about a year, then went back to working in area armories. He then aimed to take more of a leadership role.
“From the beginning, the big thing that they ingrained in us that I always remember … were the Army values. It defined everything that we do – in the military and in my civilian life, and I try to instill this and talk about it any time I get the opportunity talk to groups,” Jessup said.
He explained that the values are LEADERSHIP — although the listed traits don’t fill in every letter of the acronym. They are: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal service.
He quoted President Woodrow Wilson’s wor ds in announcing Armistice Day: “To us in America, reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory. Both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…
“We continue to honor those, and all other veterans on this day,” Jessup said.
Also at the MSJH assembly, the seventh-grade chorus sang, and veterans present each told students where they served and in what branch of the military.
Earlier in the afternoon, at Middletown Prairie Elementary School, Girl Scouts brought in the US and state flags, and students sang the songs of each branch of the military. A video was shown with students thanking veterans for their service. Those veterans attending were applauded.
Mahomet-Seymour High School and Lincoln Trail Elementary School also held events to honor military service members earlier in the day.