Lovell Schools program — Sanders: Positive dialogue builds patriotic pride

David Peck

Lovell High School civics and history teacher Caleb Sanders spoke with pride about America’s veterans, while also reminding his audience that the best way to honor veterans is through uplifting, rather than negative, speech.
Sanders was the keynote speaker for the community Veterans Day program at the LHS Johnny Winterholler Gym Friday morning, hosted annually by Lovell Schools with the assistance of Robert Boys Stewart American Legion Post 11.
“I am grateful, as a citizen of the United States of America, to have rights, freedoms and opportunities. Although not perfect, I feel that this country is a unique home for freedom and opportunity, especially when compared with the world,” Sanders said. “I am grateful for those people who have had to uncomfortably defend those rights and freedoms, some who are with us today.”
Though not a veteran himself, Sanders recalled fondly feeling a great sense of patriotism and pride in Alabama years ago during a Fourth of July fireworks display as a Neil Diamond song was played.
“I felt a great sense of patriotism and pride thinking about this country and why people choose to come here,” he said. “We have more people that immigrate to the United States than any other country on earth. And it isn’t even close. There are nearly 200 countries, and we are number one as a desirable destination for a new home. The people that come here are not only coming from neighboring countries, but they are coming from faraway places.
“Why are they coming here? Many of them are coming because they have been pushed from their home by war, hunger or poverty. They could choose to go to other countries -- there are lots of places that they could migrate to that offer relief from poverty and war -- but I believe that most who come here intentionally choose this country because of what it offers. The freedoms and opportunities here in the United States are unmatched. These freedoms and opportunities are so special that they are worth defending to keep.”
Sanders acknowledged that most members of the audience have not served in the military, but he said those listening can honor veterans, “men and women who have, at times, uncomfortably and distressingly defended a way of life that we are blessed with in the United States,” by defending the freedoms they fought for, “maybe not with our lives but at least with our lips.”
Words matter, Sanders said.
“What we say about our country matters,” he said. “The words we speak are a template for how others view us and our most treasured ideals. Some voices are loud. There are overwhelming amounts of negative speech that highlight only negative history. This pessimistic and incomplete view does not provide a window to the beauty that is our country. Our history is full of meaningful sacrifices and uplifting stories. Some here today were directly part of those pivotal events.
“It matters that we honor them today and tomorrow with songs and remembrance, that we are not apathetic and indifferent to important days such as this day and Memorial Day. They are not just days “off.” They are “on” days where we can be at our best.
“I am grateful for our veterans. I am grateful that we took time today to do this. We have a wonderful, beautiful country with freedoms and opportunities that are working for all of us.”
The program, entitled With Respect and Gratitude, Lovell Schools Honor Those Who Served -- was organized by Lovell Elementary School music director Chauna Bischoff, who presents the program annually for students and community members alike as a musical tribute to veterans. American Legion posted the colors to begin the program.
After the LHS Sugar Beats sang the National Anthem and school board member Deb Fink gave opening remarks, the program included Lovell Elementary School students singing “We Honor You” and the Lovell middle school and high school choirs singing “Our America.”
After Sanders spoke, students joined with the LHS band to perform “Armed Forces – The Pride of America” featuring the hymns of each branch of the U.S. armed forces as veterans of each branch stood when their anthem was played.
LHS senior Croix Tryon performed “Taps” on her marching baritone, and after Post 11 retrieved the colors, all in the gym joined together in singing “American the Beautiful,” followed by closing remarks by Fink.