GUILFORD, Maine — From Valley Forge to Fallujah, Iraq, American servicemen have fought the country’s battles in an ongoing effort to preserve freedom. Each November, communities around the country observe Veterans Day as a way to show their appreciation to those who have served by saying “thank you” for a job well done.
SAD 4 has held a special tribute to veterans each November since 2004 in the Piscataquis Community High School gymnasium. The tribute is filled with music, videos and readings recounting how veterans, both past and present, have made an effect on preserving freedom for future generations.
In each of the past seven SAD 4 tributes, Jake Bailey of Cambridge has participated. In 2004, as a seventh-grader, he used his computer skills to highlight the service of an American soldier. As a senior in 2010, he was the master of ceremonies for the tribute. In 2011, as an enlisted man, he sent a letter about Army life that was read at the tribute.
And when the SAD 4 community gathers in the gymnasium on Friday afternoon, Pfc. Bailey plans to address the audience remotely by Skype videoconference. Bailey, who is stationed in Kuwait, will discuss how he is adjusting to life as a soldier and his duties as a high mobility artillery rocket and multiple launch rocket system crewmember, as well as answer questions from the audience.
Bailey was inspired to become involved with annual veterans tribute as a seventh-grader due to the service of several of his family members in the military. He wanted to show them how much he appreciated their service to country.
“Being part of the tribute each year is something I’ve been proud to do,” said Bailey. “I know what type of sacrifice our veterans have made to the country. So when a veteran shakes my hand in the airport, I tell them: ‘No, thank you. If it wasn’t for your great service to the country, I wouldn’t be here today fighting for our current freedoms.’”
Bailey serves in the Charlie Battery, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery, 17 fires brigade. He began his nine-month deployment in June after completing training at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash. Kuwait is classified as a combat zone, but there hasn’t been any active fighting in the country.
The length of his Army stint will depend upon what career opportunities exist when his enlistment is up. He plans on pursuing a radiology degree in college.
The tribute will include several offerings from SAD 4 students in grades 3-12. SAD 4 Superintendent Paul Stearns said the tribute is expected to be similar to what it has been in past years.
“The only major difference is the live video with Jake. Other than that it will be like previous years with music, readings and recorded video presentations,” Stearns said.
In 2010, Bailey ended the veterans tribute by stating that since 1776, nearly 40 million soldiers had served in the nation’s Armed Forces, with 3,500 earning the Congressional Medal of Honor. Regardless of their level of service, he said all veterans in one way or another are heroes.