Veterans Day message to students: ‘You are the best and the brightest, and we look forward to you taking that baton’

Speaking to hun­dreds of mid­dle school stu­dents, Navy Rear Admiral Linda Wackerman made it clear that a career in the mil­i­tary is some­thing wor­thy of con­sid­er­a­tion. “There’s some­thing in it for each and every one of you,” she said. “We would love to have you. You are the best and the bright­est, and we look for­ward to you tak­ing that baton.”

Adm. Wackerman was the guest speak­er Friday at Palisades Middle School where stu­dents from Palisades, Pennridge and Quakertown’s Sixth Grade Center enjoyed the “Honor The War Veterans” program. 

I have been all over the world, and there’s noth­ing like what we have here in the United States,” Adm. Wackerman told the audi­ence of stu­dents and vet­er­ans from sev­en dif­fer­ent organizations. 

She said she was “hon­ored and hum­bled” to be asked to speak, and want­ed the young peo­ple to under­stand that the mil­i­tary has a place for them. “They are our next gen­er­a­tion,” she said. “That’s our future right there. They’re not exposed enough to what their future can be in the mil­i­tary. They can be any­thing, and do some great things for our nation.”

The vet­er­ans who were praised through­out the 90-minute cer­e­mo­ny have answered that call. They were laud­ed by Craig Wilhelm, Eastern Section Vice Commander with the Department of Pennsylvania, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, state Rep. Craig Staats, Palisades Middle School Principal Dr. Karl Scheibenhofer and Palisades High School Principal Richard Heffernan Jr.

Fitzpatrick not­ed that vet­er­ans run to dan­ger to risk their lives against human nature. He described them as “the most spe­cial among us … What an hon­or­able way to live one’s life.”

Dr. Karl Scheibenhofer said their ser­vice and sac­ri­fice “have left us with the peace and pros­per­i­ty we enjoy today… Thank you for giv­ing us the gift of freedom.

Mr. Heffernan added, “These men and women are our true role mod­els, which we should all aspire to be.”

Eric Thompson, prin­ci­pal of the Sixth Grade Center, said Wackerman’s words are ”great for the stu­dents to hear. This is a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty for them to learn about the impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions vet­er­ans have made to our soci­ety and to our free­doms. They had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to see gen­er­a­tions of vet­er­ans and to hon­or them in a pub­lic and spe­cial way.”

Natalie Welliver, a stu­dent at the SGC, said “I’m glad we get to thank them for their ser­vice and all that they’ve done for us.” Natalie’s dad and grand­fa­ther each served in the Navy. She said “There are times it can be very hard for a fam­i­ly, so I have respect for what the fam­i­lies of vet­er­ans go through, too.” 

Abby Boone, also a SGC stu­dent, said “It was real­ly cool to see all of the dif­fer­ent vet­er­ans. There were so many of them and it was nice to see them come togeth­er in one place.”

Adm. Wackerman, spent 33 years as a Navy pilot, includ­ing the last 19 years in the reserves. For the last 22 years, she has lived in Quakertown, where she has raised her four chil­dren. Last spring she spoke at Strayer Middle School about “Women in Leadership.” She also received the Neamand Award from the Quakertown Community Education Foundation. The award rec­og­nizes the accom­plish­ments of Neamand, a for­mer teacher who touched the lives of local stu­dents for sev­er­al decades. 

It’s good to see stu­dents see the dif­fer­ent ages and faces of our vet­er­ans,” Adm. Wackerman said. “We’re not that removed from them.”

The vet­er­ans pro­gram rotates among the three Upper Bucks County dis­tricts. Next year, Quakertown is the host. Besides the dis­tricts, stu­dents from Faith Christian Academy, Upper Bucks Christian School and St. Isidore’s School attend­ed the event. 

Veterans orga­ni­za­tions rep­re­sent­ed includ­ed Hartzell-Crouthamel Post No. 280, John Rivers Memorial Post VFW Post 11322, Nase-Kraft Post No. 255, Palisades District Memorial Post No. 399, VFW Post 245, Forrest Lodge, Vietnam Veterans of America, VVA Chapter 468, and Wallace Willard Keller Post No. 242. 

Sixth Grade Center students enjoy Veterans Day ceremony at Palisades Middle School.

Sixth Grade Center stu­dents enjoy Veterans Day cer­e­mo­ny at Palisades Middle School.