by Susan Mikula Campbell
For sophomore Michelle Ball, volunteering her time at Lewiston-Porter's annual Veterans Day Dinner on Nov. 10 was simply a matter of showing respect.
"My mom is a refugee from the Vietnam War. If it wasn't for these brave young men going to serve our county, my mother would not have come over and I would not have been born in this free country," she said.
Veterans and their guests were greeted at the school doors by Lew-Port's Junior ROTC students, who provided an escort to the school cafeteria. One student, informed he was meeting a 91-year-old World War II vet, lost his polished poise and delighted the man by exclaiming, "Cool!"
The fourth annual dinner, hosted by the Lewiston-Porter Historical Society, drew a crowd for a meal of spaghetti and meatballs, chicken, salad and bread. Many of the veterans wore caps or jackets indicating their service, VFW blazers or ties in patriotic colors, and they were noticeably touched as students repeatedly thanked them.
"I've talked to a few of them," said sophomore Cailey Wright, granddaughter of a World War II veteran. "It fascinated me how much things have changed ... some of the stories you hear are almost unbelievable."
ROTC students provided a presentation of the colors, a respectful ceremony at a "missing persons table," a reading of "I Am A Veteran" and a blessing.
Freshman ROTC student Alessandra Santarosa noted that her grandfather is a World War II veteran and she has two cousins in the military.
"There's a lot of veterans who even though they have served our country, they're still involved in the community," she said. "Our school and our community want to do what we can to help and thank them."
This was the second year sophomore ROTC student Jack Wall has volunteered for the Veterans Day Dinner.
"It's important to show respect and remember they are the reason we have these freedoms in our country. They go overseas and fight and serve. They go through some terrible things just to have our liberties," he said. "It's important to show our respect for that."