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The freedom they secured

Heritage Christian School holds annual Veterans Day Celebration
Audrey Linz (far left) shakes hands with a veteran at the conclusion of Heritage Christian School’s annual Veterans Day Celebration Friday, Nov. 10. Veterans are asked to form a line so as to be thanked for their service by every Heritage student. Shar Altenhofen, Kaylin Jumper, Jack Marks and Lydia Super are behind Linz. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

NORTH LIBERTY — Veterans Day was recognized Friday, Nov. 10 at the Heritage Christian School in North Liberty with their annual Veterans Day Celebration. School Head Michael Annis said the special event has two purposes. “The first is to honor those who have served in the United States military. The second is to provide an intentional experience for our students to recognize that the cost of freedom was purchased by individuals.”
One such individual is Sergeant First Class (SFC) Rich Barclift, Iowa Army National Guard. SFC Barclift, with 35 years of service (20 years active duty), was the featured speaker.
“We are Americans, and this nation was founded on the belief that a person’s freedom is worth fighting for. We had to fight to gain this freedom, and at times, we have had to fight to preserve our freedom,” Barclift said. The flag “represents this freedom, that was paid for with much sacrifice.” Many generations have carried Old Glory into battle, he said, “And many more probably will.”
SFC Barclift joined the Army at the age of 17, and our flag took on a new significance for him. “The flag became a monument that I saluted and defended. It represented a piece of fabric that I was willing to give my life for. When one enters the military, he not only pledges allegiance to the flag, but you also pledge to support and defend the Constitution. You take this oath in the presence of our nation’s flag, and God, our Father.” The flag, he said, is an enduring symbol of life, liberty and the pursuit of one’s happiness, “that we defend, and (it) motivates us to serve.”
Barclift quoted Elmer Davis, noted reporter and World War II vet, who said, “This nation will remain the home of the free only if it remains the home of the brave.” Davis added, “This republic was not established by cowards, and cowards will not preserve it.”
“I am proud to report that this is the spirit of today’s war fighter,” Barclift said. “They are brave, capable and willing to support and defend the Constitution — and, represent our nation’s flag wherever and whenever.” Although our flag has a simple design, he pointed out the complexities within. “The red represents hardiness and valor. The white signifies purity and innocence. The blue represents vision, perseverance and justice.”
Heritage middle school students raise the flag each morning and retire it at the end of the day, he said. “I am honored to have our son attend a school where patriotism for our great nation and respect for our flag is being taught.”
Annis acknowledged four World War II veterans in attendance and cited Veterans Administration statistics showing that approximately 558,000 warriors from “The Greatest Generation” remain among us. “That’s three percent of those who served from 1941 to 1945,” Annis said adding, “Gentlemen, we’re honored by your presence here today. Deeply honored.”
It is a tradition at Heritage that at the conclusion of the ceremony, veterans line up across the gym and are greeted by every Heritage student. Each student looks veterans in the eye, says “thank you” and shakes their hand. Annis explained the rationale, saying, “Many of our students don’t know you. I agree with a quote from our former president, ‘Children must be taught to value and understand freedom so that they, like you, will stand and protect it.’ I wholeheartedly believe that it is important that they demonstrate that appreciation, maybe even before they grasp the significance of what you’ve done for us. You deserve that.” Annis noted, “At some of their ages, they don’t yet understand freedom; they don’t yet understand its cost. And many of them don’t recognize it was paid for, and it’s protected by individuals.”