Veterans Day in the Pahrump Valley was marked by all sorts of events and ceremonies, including a touching show of patriotism and gratitude from one local school, J.G. Johnson Elementary.
Just before the holiday itself, on Friday, Nov. 8 the staff, students and families of J.G. Johnson came together for the Veterans Appreciation Assembly with former service members invited as the guests of honor.
As Disabled American Veterans Chapter #15 Commander Greg Cardarelli put it, the assembly was so heartwarming that by the end of it there was hardly a dry eye in the gymnasium.
As with any event to honor the military, the posting of the colors and Pledge of Allegiance were important features, with the Pahrump Valley High School JROTC Color Guard handling the duty of carrying and displaying the flags. J.G. Johnson Elementary Principal Debbie Carle and teacher Tammy Baltutat took the lead at the assembly, welcoming all attendees and extending an especially warm welcome to the many veterans who had turned out as well.
“We are here today to honor our heroes, you, our veterans, to remember their achievements, their courage, their dedication, and to say thank you for your sacrifices,” Carle said with obvious pride. “This process started over two months ago… when our family engagement chair, Tammy Baltutat, came to me and said, ‘I think we should do something for Veterans Day.’ And then the ideas just started rolling from there. Our entire school has worked very hard and we are excited to honor you this day.”
Next on the program was a special presentation by Battle Born Quilts of Valor, a newly organized chapter of the nationwide Quilts of Valor Foundation. Displaying a series of handmade quilts, the Battle Born Quilts of Valor members called forward one by one the recipients to drape the unique creations around the shoulders of five area veterans, including teachers Jennifer Dabney and Tracey Baker, social worker Ava Proulx, Darrell Moore and Larry Small Jr.
The assembly also included the reading of a thank-you letter by Baltutat, along with two sing-alongs performed by the students and conducted by J.G. Johnson music teacher Eric Kunzi.
First to be sung were the military services songs representative of each branch, followed by the patriotic ballad “Proud to be an American.” The young voices of the students rising in song to fill the air sent a thrill through the watching audience and prompted many smiles and misty eyes all around.
The program also featured a video created by J.G. Johnson teacher Whitney Lang, who compiled photographs of the students holding sheets of paper bearing the phrases “Because of your sacrifice, I can become…” and “Your service has granted me the freedom to have…”, each of which were filled in with a variety of responses from the youngsters. “Because of your sacrifice, I can become a police officer,” “a ballerina” and “a pilot” several read, while others stated, “Your service has granted me the freedom to have the right to vote,” “freedom of religion” and “to feel safe.”
The genuine expressions of gratitude from such young citizens obviously moved the veterans in attendance, who gave the students a standing ovation as the assembly came to a conclusion.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org
Battle Born Quilts of Valor serving area veterans
Battle Born Quilts of Valor is the newest local chapter of the national Quilts of Valor Foundation and is meant to fill a very specific portion of the veteran population, those who cannot or do not wish to participate in the large presentation ceremonies typically hosted by Quilts of Valor chapters.
“I recently created Battle Born Quilts of Valor ‘to serve those who are physically, emotionally, geographically unable to and/or choose not to participate in a large ceremony.’ We were formed under the strict guidelines set forth by the Quilts of Valor Foundation,” Terry Janke detailed, noting the group’s number is 68828.
“To clarify, there are veterans who are hospitalized or home-bound who cannot come to a large ceremony, too many eligible and deserving veterans in Nevada suffer from PTSD, TBI (traumatic brain injury) and other emotional issues that keep them from participating in a large ceremony, many live too far away to make a trip to Pahrump feasible and many others just do not want to wait for and participate in a large hour’s long ceremony. These are the veterans we want to serve,” Janke explained.
Battle Born Quilters is sponsored by Janke and his wife Victoria Brazzle’s quilt shop, the Quilted Dragon. The nonprofit organization was born only a couple of months ago, Janke continued, but it has already grown from six original members to 16 members and collectively, the quilters have been able to award 20 Quilts of Valor in that time.
“Those presentations are done at a place and time that fits the recipient. We have presented quilts to a veteran at his home with just his wife and dog in attendance, in another home with the veteran his wife and grandchildren present, another was presented at the Desert Squares square dancing group’s monthly gathering and several have been presented at Battle Born Quilts of Valor’s monthly ‘sew in’ at our shop,” Janke said.
Anyone interested in joining the group or with questions may contact Janke at email@example.com or 775-537-7259. Anyone interested in receiving a Quilt of Valor or wishing to request one for a friend or relative may do so online at www.qovf.org
“If they are requesting a small ceremony, one at a special location or event or should they just want us to do it, they can request Battle Born Quilts of Valor in the comments section on the application form or just contact me,” Janke advised.
— Robin Hebrock, Pahrump Valley Times