FFA Stands Up for Vets

ffa groupI recently had the pleasure of sitting down with four of Claremore High School’s outstanding FFA students. The organization was contacted by the Oklahoma Honor Flight, asking if they would be interested in participating in an event at the Claremore Veterans Centers. Of course, they said ‘yes.’

The Oklahoma Honor Flight has been involved in planning a trip for WWII veterans to visit the WWII memorial in our nation’s capital. However, there are several here in Claremore who are unable to make such a trip. Thanks to local organizations, such as the CHS FFA, they were able to be recognized in a different way.

ffa ceremonyThree groups took part in the ceremony, which was held on January 10. In addition to the CHS FFA, the ROTC groups from  Claremore High and Will Rogers High joined in the celebration. A total of 95 students were on hand that day to honor the veterans.

Each student was matched with a veteran, as a “buddy”, if you will. Each branch’s song was played, and each student stood as his or her veteran’s branch was recognized. All of the veterans were given a commemorative medal, which was placed around their necks by their student buddy.

After the ceremony, the students took the time to just sit and talk with their new friends, while enjoying refreshments.

DSC_7187I asked the students what the most memorable part of the day was, and their answers impressed me.

“The whole thing was awesome…I was amazed at how many people were willing to be brave and serve our country. They’re all heroes.”

“The moment when I placed the medal around his neck; he just looked so gracious and happy.”

“The best part was listening to the stories he had to tell, and it was fun to meet a new person who was so nice.”

The students also told me about their favorite veteran, who is a 91-year-old woman who served in the Air Force, being stationed at a total of nine different bases. They said she was “probably the most fit 91-year-old ever” and she told great stories, including the fact that some of the veterans from back then had actually reunited here in Claremore. It’s truly a small world.

If you’re more of a city kid like me, you might not know much about FFA. It’s officially the “education of agriculture”, and the Claremore organization consists of 153 students, grades 8 – 12. There is more to it than showing livestock at the fair (which is all I knew about), like judging teams, competitive speaking and horticulture.

Future Farmers of America is a “premier leadership, personal growth and career success-driven organization.” It’s agriculture based, and is run by the students who hold officer positions.

Advisor Matt Boyer was kind enough to give me the run-down of the group and how it works. I’m sure I’m not explaining it very well. Mr. Boyer has been in charge of the CHS program for 11 years, and gives the credit to the students. They run the show, and he keeps them heading in the right direction.

Thanks to the FFA kids for taking time to salute our veterans, and thanks to the group below for taking the time to answer all my questions.

photo Pictured left to right:

Sydni Dziurda

Kaitlan Thatcher

Lori Cohen

Taylor Stephens

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