By MICHELLE BROOKS
RUSSELLVILLE - With his son and daughter among the Cole County R-1 Schools kindergarten through seniors attending the community Veterans Day assembly Monday, Bill Stubinger accepted an American flag.
The Boy Scouts of America Troop 96 presented four, folded flags after conducting a flag-folding ceremony led by veteran Jerry Koestner.
Stubinger served in the U.S. Army and later the Missouri Army National Guard from 1989-2011, carrying on a family tradition of military service. He joined out of high school and has enjoyed seeing countries he likely would not have seen otherwise.
He served at bases in Germany and Korea and was deployed to Kosovo in 2008.
Michael Larimore, who continues to serve in the U.S. Air Force since joining in 1987, and Joseph Dulany, who has served in the U.S. Army and Missouri Army National Guard since 1984.
They also received flags for long-term military service, as did Charles Matheis, a former Russellville educator, who served in the U.S. Army 1952-1954.
"It's a priviledge to receive this gift on Veterans Day from what I've done - it's pretty important to me," Stubinger said.
Before the assembly, the Beta Club served breakfast to dozens of local veterans. Then, they were escorted individually into the filled gymnasium, each receiving applause of gratitude.
Mike Nichols, who served in the Missouri National Guard 1987-1995, was the guest speaker.
Now the youth minister at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Nichols directed his speech to the young people, sharing the character-building benefits of military service.
Teamwork, encouragement and respect were the key points.
Nichols also shared that "hard things are worth doing."
Although he was scared of heights, Nichols said he attended airborne schools where he eventually learned to jump out of an airplane.
"There's no better feeling, once you jump out of that airplane," Nichols said. "I never would have done that, if I had not been willing to try the hard things."
To his fellow veterans, whose service ranged from World War II to present-day, Nichols said: "You did the hard things and because of that, we can be here today."