WAXAHACHIE (CBSDFW.COM) – Heroes of the ‘greatest generation’ are being lost at a heartbreaking rate. But, as we approach Veteran’s Day, there are encouraging signs at a North Texas high school that the sacrifices of the nation’s service men and women aren’t lost on young people often criticized for being focused solely on themselves.
“As young people, we have a lot of things,” says 14-year-old freshman Jackson Leath. “And we don’t always appreciate what’s given to us.”
At Waxahachie High School Friday, the history lesson was delivered in person—and it was packed with patriotism. Leath was among an auditorium of students who honored area service members invited to a Veteran’s Day assembly.
“I’m just really blown away by the fact that the veterans sacrificed their lives,” says Leath. “In one of the speeches, they say ‘they’re writing a blank check to the U.S. government that includes their lives.’ That was very touching.”
“We might not think of it every day,” added 15-year-old Miller Mottla, “I’m going to be honest. I don’t think of it every day. ‘Hey—I wake up. I have freedom.’ No, I don’t think of that. But, when I am reminded I have freedom, it’s a really big thing for me.”
Mottla says the assembly led him to thoughts of his grandparents, LCDR Gilbert Mottla and Lt. Helen Mottla, both Navy veterans who served during WWII. He says after her death last year at 92, the family learned that his grandmother had worked in Navy intelligence during the war.
“I was completely discombobulated to the thought that my grandma could be important to the war! So it was really cool to know that.”
And other students, too, were full of pride at their own family’s military’s service.
“My great granddad served in the Navy in WWII and he was on the USS Indianapolis when they delivered the bomb, the atomic bomb to Guam,” says Leath, “and he barely missed the torpedo that sunk the infamous ship the Indianapolis. From the stories I’ve heard, he was just a cool dude.”
Retired Marine Jeff Kyle says it is important for young and old alike to remember that a service member’s service, never truly ends.
“Some of these kids, they understand… they get it,” says Kyle. Kyle works with the Heroes Project to help provide emotional and physical support to area veterans. Kyle’s brother, Navy Sniper Chris Kyle co-founded the organization. Kyle was killed in February at an area gun range while trying to help a fellow veteran.
Jeff Kyle say it “means the world” to him to continue Chris’ work with the foundation. “Chris fought day in and day out and we’re going to continue to do so.”
Charter Communications donated $10,000 Friday to the foundation to support their work with area veterans. As for Kyle, he says all gestures of thanks—large or small—are cherished by the nation’s veterans.
“It means a lot,” says Kyle, “ especially from the younger generation. It makes us realize that they do understand. It doesn’t stop with us. It continues to grow.”
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