While many of her friends’ and classmates’ fathers dress up for work, one Trinity Lutheran High School senior’s dad puts on a different uniform each day.
Instead of suits, Amanda Wright’s dad wears combat boots.
Captain Michael J. Wright serves in the U.S. Army and is stationed at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He also has served in Iraq.
On Friday morning, Amanda spoke about her father and the struggles and rewards of being in a military family to fellow students, her teachers and members of the community during Trinity’s annual Veterans Day program. Many local veterans also attended.
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“As an Army daughter, I have experienced difficulties as my dad is deployed. I fear and worry for him constantly,” she said.
When her father is gone for months at a time, Amanda said she and her siblings must rely on their mother for everything.
“My mom has the responsibility of both parents. She has to make sure we get everywhere we need to, figure out how to get the car fixed when it breaks down, pay the bills,” she said. “All these new stress factors of responsibility build up.
But she wouldn’t change her life, even if she could. Amanda is proud that her father is in the military serving and protecting the country.
“The worst and best news you get while being a military child is that your father is about to get deployed for 10 months,” she said. “I say best because that sense of achievement is there. Knowing that my dad is away from me to serve our country makes me so happy and thrilled. Being a military child is in no way easy, but it is worth it.”
She also gave credit to all veterans — active duty, retired and deceased — and military families for their sacrifices.
“The love that these veterans have standing before us is an extraordinary kind of love,” Amanda said. “I applaud all military families. Military families serve, too. Being a part of a military family, you have your own personal hero. My family and I have to always stay strong — Army strong.”
Leading Friday’s program were student government president Hailley Peters and vice president Leah Stuckwisch.
Peters spoke of the origins of Veterans Day.
“On Nov. 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson established the first commemoration of Armistice Day,” she said. “We are here today to continue that tradition of giving thanks to the men and women who have defended our nation with honor, courage and loyalty.”
During the presentation of the colors, five Trinity seniors helped carry, unfold and hold an oversized American flag during the singing of the national anthem.
The five seniors were chosen because they have or plan to enlist in the military after graduation. They were Aaron Bowers, Alexis Keller, Sang Jun Kim, Spencer Muhlbach and Kendall White.
Muhlbach is the son of the Rev. Craig Muhlbach, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church at Sauers. Pastor Muhlbach served in the U.S. Coast Guard and later joined the Indiana National Guard. In 2008, he was deployed to Iraq to serve as chaplain for the 76th Brigade of the 152nd Cavalry Unit.
“It’s an honor to be here,” Muhlbach said after the program. “Whenever I have this opportunity to celebrate and remember, I think of my father, my uncle who served. I have a son in the Marines, and my son was one of those who brought the flag in and he is enlisting in the Navy. It’s an honor to see all these veterans with us.”
One of the most memorable moments of Friday’s program was the performance of the anthems from all five branches of the armed forces. Veterans stood up and were recognized during the playing of their branch’s song.
Students also recognized veterans in their families with a PowerPoint presentation featuring pictures of their loved ones, some living, some deceased. In all, 60 veterans were honored.
Stuckwisch spoke of Indiana’s participation in the military over the years and the local support that has been given by those who served at the former Freeman Army Airfield during World War II, the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center near Bloomington, Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville.
“Our local area demonstrates the preparation, commitment, courage and excellence necessary to serve in the U.S. armed forces,” she said.
Originally, the guest speaker for the program was to be Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, a U.S. Navy veteran. When Holcomb won Tuesday’s governor election, however, his schedule changed, and he was unable to attend.
“His obligations changed, which is perfectly understandable,” Trinity Principal Ben Stellwagen said.
Instead, Holcomb’s chief of staff, Danny Lopez, spoke in his place. He was introduced by State Representative Jim Lucas of Seymour, who also is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Lucas’ son and daughter are graduates of Trinity.
As a former high school history teacher, Lopez said he appreciated seeing Trinity students participate in and take interest in Veterans Day.
“When the nation has called, this state has answered,” he said. “Indiana has more military service members per capita, men and women putting on the uniform to defend our freedoms, than any other state in the nation. That’s something we should be extremely proud of.”
The program concluded with students Josiah Probst and Lexi Schneider playing taps and a moment of silence. Afterwards, veterans and their families were invited to stay for a reception to meet and greet each other and students.