Huntington Native Steven Berry to Speak at 22nd Annual Veterans Day Celebration at Huntington High School Retired Army Chaplain (Colonel) Steven L. Berry will serve as the keynote speaker at Huntington’s 22nd annual Veterans Day Celebration on Friday, Nov. 10 at the high school auditorium.
Berry, a 1970 graduate of Huntington entered active service in the US Army Chaplain Corps in 1986 and has been stationed in numerous locations including the Republic of Korea, Baghdad, Iraq, Kabul, Afghanistan and Washington D.C.
Berry and his wife, Colonel Vanessa Berry, live in North Carolina where she currently serves as the Staff Judge-Advocate at US Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg. The couple has three children and four grandchildren.
“Chaplain Berry has a lot of military experiences and stories that he plans to share with our veterans, students and community members,” program coordinator J’Nelle Short said. “He is a very knowledgeable individual, a great speaker and we are so happy that he has agreed to serve as our speaker.”
For the past 21 years, citizens of Huntington have come together to celebrate Veterans Day and to honor local veterans in an uplifting and patriotic ceremony. The tradition is continuing. Huntington ISD staff members and community volunteers are gearing up for the event, which will begin at 10:00 a.m.
“We want to encourage the community to attend this event, as we celebrate our 22nd year of saluting our local veterans,” HISD Superintendent David Flowers said. “The veterans are our honored guests, but everyone is invited as we make sure they know they are appreciated and that we are thankful for the service they rendered for our nation.”
Veterans are encouraged to arrive by 9:30 a.m. for registration, greeting, and coffee.
Guests can also view hundreds of photos of local veterans, patriotic posters and memorabilia that are on display in the high school commons area.
For some, attending Veterans Day at Huntington High School has become a yearly tradition. Korean War veteran Ted Ivy and wife Barbara have attended since the program began and are impressed with the amount of patriotism they have seen. “I can’t begin to express all of the feelings I have about this program,” Ivy said. “I’ve loved the show since it began years ago with only a handful of us. They really know how to make us feel appreciated and loved.”
The Huntington celebration has grown through the years from that handful of guests to well over 100 veterans who represent all of the branches of the military.
“We welcome all veterans,” Short said. “We have men and women who drive from Nacogdoches, Zavalla, Lufkin, and Livingston each year to join us. Some have family ties to Huntington, others just started coming because they heard about our program.” Veterans who have never attended may not know what to expect. “First of all, they will be welcomed as a V.I.P.,” Short said. “HISD administrators provide valet parking so guests can simply pull up to the front door. They are greeted and escorted by friendly students who will show them how to get registered and answer any questions they may have.”
Guests can also expect a patriotic, inspiring program that celebrates and honors the United States of America. The 1200-seat auditorium is usually filled to near-capacity with reserved seating for veterans and guests. Ample wheelchair seating is also available. After the program (which will last until about 11:30), all veterans and community members are invited to stay for a free All-American barbecue lunch provided by the school district. Students and community volunteers will serve the food.
“I graduated from Huntington High School 18 years ago,” said Shane Stover, high school principal, “and can still remember the Veterans Day programs from when I was in school.
Those programs helped develop my pride in our country and an understanding of the importance to honor the men and women that protect our country and our freedom. I am proud that HISD still offers the program not only to honor our Veterans, but also to pass patriotism on to our students.”
Local radio personality Danny Merrell will, once again, emcee the program. Patriotic songs and readings will be featured in the celebration as well. For more information or to submit a photo of a veteran, contact J’Nelle Short at the high school (936) 876-4150 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.