Garrison commander speaks at Sykesville's Century High School
November 15, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Nov. 15, 2012) -- As a teen during the Vietnam War, Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein never attended a Veterans Day assembly at school -- they simply didn't exist during the Vietnam War.
"We didn't have that when I was a teenager. We put it off to the side," he recalled. "I was sheltered during that time, as most teenagers were. We didn't know a war was going on. Veterans, to me, didn't mean that much."
In a speech at Century High School's Veterans Day Assembly in Sykesville, Rothstein explained that it is important to gather to remember and honor veterans.
"It is my duty and my honor to be here to share these comments with you," he said. "I absolutely believe that when veterans take off that uniform, they don't hang it in the closet. It's an opportunity for them to come out here and share with you their soldiering, whether they're Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors or Coast Guardsman."
The 90-minute assembly also featured the school's chorus and wind ensemble, the Coast Guard Academy Glee Club, and Janice Chance, a gold star mother. Dozens of veterans from various wars also attended the event.
Prior to the assembly, Rothstein said he looked forward to talking to the students and thought it was important to expose young people to veterans.
"An opportunity like today, showing the kids who veterans are and that they need to be embraced, is huge," he said.
During his remarks, Rothstein explained what Veterans Day means to him -- a celebration, not a memorial. It is a time to celebrate the selfless service and sacrifice of veterans, he said.
"The one- to two percent of the country who wear the uniform, we give up our rights freely to ensure you have your inalienable rights, to ensure you have freedom of speech and freedom of assembly," he said.
The importance of community, family and friends also was addressed by Rothstein. Community, he said, empowers service members with the strength to make the sacrifices needed and put themselves in harm's way.
"The one- to two percent that wear our uniform is said to be the strength of our country," he said. "I am absolutely convinced that the strength of that one- to two percent are our families, friends and community.
"What Veterans Day means to me is the strength and that bond. It's the bond and strength that we have as a community, as a family, that gives us more strength than you could ever imagine."
Following the assembly, a Living History Museum was set up in the auxiliary gym that displayed exhibits from the Buffalo Soldiers and recruiting brigades and photos that veterans had of their time in the military.
Several students said they enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the veterans.
"It's really nice to be able to talk to them," said Austin Miller, a sophomore. "We appreciate it."