Lafayette community recognizes celebration, sacrifice on Veterans Day


Anusha Singh

Members of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program march in the Homecoming Parade on Oct. 1, 2021. After school, ROTC has been practicing to march in a Veterans Day parade that will occur at Pond Elementary School on Nov. 13.

Vijay Viswanathan

Veterans Day, celebrated on Nov. 11, is meant to observe the moment when an armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918, to end WWI and to mark the contributions of veterans to the United States. Senior Master Sgt. Matt Zahradka, co-instructor of Lafayette’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), believes the holiday is an important day for students and the community to honor veterans for their service.

“The best way for young people to give back [to veterans] is to go to a nursing home and speak to them, or go to an AMVETS location and ask them about what they did when they served and thank them for their service. You don’t just have to do it on Veterans Day, you can do it anytime in the year. The holiday also represents the sacrifices that veterans have made for the United States,” Zahradka said.

The members of ROTC have participated in multiple events throughout the years in accordance with Veterans Day, this year participating in a Veterans Day parade at Pond Elementary on Nov. 13. ROTC has been practicing weekly after school in the lower parking lot for the parade.

“We are going to participate in a parade with Pond Elementary. We were also asked to participate in a program with Wild Horse Elementary, however, we just don’t have that many people to go to every single project,” Zahradka said.

History teacher Vincent DeBlasi served in the Army for four years and was a sergeant, being deployed to Germany, Italy and Japan. DeBlasi believes there is not enough recognition surrounding Veterans Day.

“If I’m going to be honest with you, the school doesn’t do a good job of pointing out what so many people sacrificed, on a voluntary basis. There is also a lot with legacy, like my grandfather, my father, me and now my son all served in the military. I think people also have to realize the sacrifices that military spouses make. When their significant other is deployed, the spouse becomes the husband and the wife,” DeBlasi said.

DeBlasi agrees with Zahradka when it comes to thanking veterans, but also offered some additional ways to give back to veterans during Veterans Day.

“Along with saying thank you, you can go down to Jefferson Barracks and watch the Veterans Day ceremony there and if you have grandparents that served, you can see if they will tell you their story of being in the military. It’s really important that we get the stories from our older generations,” DeBlasi said.

Senior Grace Boschert, who is a part of the ROTC program, shares the same sentiment as DeBlasi.

“Veterans Day is a day for everyone to celebrate anyone who has served in the armed forces and to recognize that they gave everything in order for us to be able to live our day-to-day lives. The best way to recognize them is to just say thank you to them, it means more to them than most people realize,” Boschert said.

Zahradka hopes more people will realize how important veterans are in the United States.

“What I hope everyone understands, not just the ROTC kids, is that these veterans served the United States because they love their country. They like to serve their fellow human beings, and they feel that they have the chance to give back to their country,” Zahradka said.