Two brothers from Seymour enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at about the same time back in the mid-1970s.
At the time, there wasn’t a lot to do in what was then John Mellencamp’s “small town.”
“I was going to college, and I felt like I was going to waste my parents’ money,” Randall Black said Friday after a Veterans Day service at the city’s war memorial in Gaiser Park.
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Black, who spent 12 years in the Air Force and obtained two degrees, said he found the program — conducted by students and staff at Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center — very humbling.
“I’m always so impressed that people appreciate what we do because even though we went in on our own and maybe for different reasons, once we got in there, it was a prideful thing to be serving your country,” he said. “I was overseas for three years and keeping an eye on what was going on.”
His younger brother, Michael Black, described the program that included the school’s choir and band a little differently.
“I thought today was awesome,” he said. “I really like it that the community comes together to recognize veterans because there’s just a small percentage of the population that actually goes into the military.”
Michael Black enlisted in the Air Force in December 1975 and worked with the Department of the Air Force after leaving active duty.
“I got out in 1984,” he said.
Mayor Craig Luedeman spoke briefly during the ceremony, the seventh Veterans Day service conducted at the war memorial.
“The service members we honor today come from all walks of life, but they share several fundamental qualities,” Luedeman said. “They possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity — all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.”
Don Furlow, chairman of the war memorial committee, also spoke briefly.
The Marine Corps veteran said people don’t have to join the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines or another organization of defense to actively defend our way of life.
“We can protect our freedom simply by maintaining it here in America,” he said. “If we want to preserve our freedoms, we must put them into action — for example, by voting in elections or speaking out against injustices.”
The school choir sang a medley featuring the songs or hymns for each branch of the military. Members of each branch could stand when that branch’s song was sung. Clarinetists from the school band then played several patriotic songs.
Sixth-grader Brooklynn Osborne said she doesn’t have any veterans in her family but was glad to participate in the program.
“I thought it was nice of the school to let us do this for the veterans because of how much they served for us,” she said.
Ethan Reed, another sixth-grader, said he has a cousin who is in the military and deployed, so he also was glad to have the chance to participate in the service.
Classmate Luke Coomler said it was an honor to be involved because he has a couple of veterans in his family.
“My papaw was in the Navy, and I have a cousin who is in the Army,” he said.
The program also featured a wreath presentation involving some of the students and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 honor guard presenting the colors and a 21-gun salute. The service was closed with taps.
After the service, the school’s 320 students and others in attendance had a chance to thank those veterans who were in attendance and learn about the memorial.