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When local veterans are honored next month at Owen County High School for their service to the country, a new young leader will be behind the scenes making sure the event goes off with military precision.
The annual Veteran’s Day program at OCHS will be held Nov. 11. All veterans are invited to stop by the high school at 11 a.m. for a special lunch provided by the students. At 1 p.m., a special recognition program – which is open to the public – will honor the veterans.
All guests are asked to RSVP by calling 484-4173.
Mattie Cook, a junior, will be taking over the program from its founder.
The program to honor American veterans was started three years ago by former Owen County High School student Mary Kennedy, who graduated earlier this year.
“She was leaving (school) and needed someone to take over,” Cook said. “So I shadowed her last year and helped her organize last year’s event.”
Kennedy not only passed along her organizational skills and planning know-how, she instilled in a Cook a sense of duty and obligation.
“She’s was kind of like my role model in high school,” Cook said of her friend. “This program wasn’t started by the staff or the school. This was her idea and she made it happen. I’m proud to be continuing it.”
Cook said the lunch and program is paying back a much larger debt to men and women who have served in the armed forces.
“The thing I’m most surprised about is the lack of recognition a lot of these veterans get,” Cook said. “Some of them have said this is the first time they have gotten any kind of recognition, and it means a lot to them. That’s really what all the work is about — just to say thank-you to them.”
Taking the time to honor Owen County veterans with a lunch and presentation is just a small gesture of gratitude the public should offer the veterans.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the families as well as the veterans themselves,” Cook said. “These people have gone out and fought for our freedom and I think this is the least we can do for them. Something as simple as a thank-you isn’t something they get every day.”
This year, the general public along with the students will be invited to honor Owen County veterans.
By opening the doors to the public, Cook said, more people will have the chance to honor the vets.
Cook said veterans and their families can expect a wonderful time at this year’s event.
“A lot of people are really moved by this,” Cook said. “I was impressed how respectful the entire student body was to the veterans. It should be touching.”