More than 100 veterans gathered at Indian Creek High School on Wednesday donning hats, jackets and uniforms, representing the branch of the military where they proudly served their country.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Myles W. Clayburn was one of those veterans dressed in uniform.
Clayburn was the guest speaker at Indian Creek’s annual Veterans Day ceremony, where he was honored for 40 years of service. He spoke to a group of more than 1,000 people, including students from Indian Creek middle and high schools, at the annual ceremony.
His career started at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in 1974 and led to assignments in Germany, Panama, Jamaica and one tour in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Clayburn received a Sagamore of the Wabash when he retired in February from the Indiana National Guard. During his service, Clayburn received the Bronze Star medal, an Afghanistan campaign medal with two campaign stars, the global war on terrorism service medal and the Indiana Distinguished Service Medal.
Clayburn didn’t spend any time talking about his accomplishments. Instead, he talked about the veterans sitting in front of him.
He talked about the different generations of veterans and emphasized the importance of remembering and honoring veterans and making sure the next generation takes care of those who are serving now, Clayburn said.
“For everyone here, I don’t expect you to remember everything I say, but what’s important is remembering why we’re here,” Clayburn said.
Clayburn spoke specifically to the middle school students, explaining how unique their generation is to this country. Middle school students have lived their entire lives with service men and women deployed, Clayburn said.
“The middle school students are a historic generation,” Clayburn said. “They’ve lived their entire life with their nation’s service members deployed to hostile fire zones. When they’re in leadership positions, take care of veterans.”
After Clayburn’s speech, Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson Schools Assistant Superintendent Andy Cline read the names of each veteran who attended the ceremony one-by-one. As each name was announced, a veteran stood while their accomplishments were acknowledged.
They represented multiple generations and served tours in Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, Vietnam, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Korea and World War II. Each was met with a round of applause.
“It makes you feel very proud of these students. They are into it,” Superintendent Tim Edsell said. “They understand the significance. And we have had students and will probably have some of these students enter the military because of this event.”
At the end of the program, students stood and joined First Christian Church of Morgantown Senior Minister Burt Brock in singing “God Bless the U.S.A.”
“I was humbled,” Clayburn said. “Maybe they got the message.”
Clayburn encouraged all who have served to feel pride every day, not just on Veterans Day.
“Most veterans count their time in a military uniform as a defining time in their life,” Clayburn said. “We serve because of a special calling. We don’t keep score or who did what or what medals we received. I can’t think of a place I’d rather be today. My hat’s off to the school for doing this.”