Assembly helps students reflect on meaning of Veteran’s Day


To show he was proud of being a Navy Veteran, Mr. Betts displayed his Navy hat for the students to see at the conclusion of his speech.

On Friday, November 9, Mr. Jack Betts, a US Navy Veteran, presented to the high school’s staff and student body to honor Veteran’s Day. Starting with World War I, Betts curated America’s participation in major wars and the history of Veteran’s Day. 

While discussing World War I and its many casualties, he cited a famous poem, John McCrae’s “In Flanders Field.”

Betts quoted, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row, / That mark our place; and in the sky.”

“In Flanders Field” documents a battlefield in Belgium which is now a famous memorial. Poppies populate the field, which illustrates the large number of soldiers who lost their lives during World War I.

He returned to this poem during his speech to emphasize the sacrifice of soldiers who came before us and who are currently serving courageously for our country.

Betts conveyed that Armistice Day was created to commemorate that an armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany to end that war. Betts conveyed that World War I was supposed to be “the war that ended all wars,” but through his speech, students understood that wars  continued to be fought. The title of the day “Armistice Day” was changed to “Veteran’s Day” to include veterans of all wars, not just World War I. It was changed around 1954.

In an interview, after the touching and emotional presentation, Mr. Betts explained why he accepted the school’s invitation to present for Veteran’s Day.

Bett said, “I have subbed here for five years, and [the students] are just so great. It just amazes me how great this school is and how lucky you guys truly are. When they asked me if I wanted to come here, I always would–in a New York minute. This place meant a lot to me, treated me well, and I have spoken here before, and everytime they ask me to speak, I do.”

Betts said that the students listened very well during the presentation, and “that is just how Poland is.”

He also said that he wanted the students to understand and to appreciate what veterans and active military servicemen and servicewomen do for America.

Betts said, “I wanted them [the students] to take away how much men and women in this country do for us in the military, and when I read those numbers of how many people were killed, it just amazes me; those people went out and risked their lives for us, not themselves.”

Additionally, Betts has a personal connection other than being a veteran. Some of his family members have followed in his footsteps, which makes Veteran’s Day even more personal for him.

“I have a son in the military, two kids in the US Air Force, a grandson in law who is in the US Army. I just hope that they [the students] appreciate what those people do for us,” said Betts.

Betts is very proud of his family for answering the call to serve.

He said, “My one son served, and the other one has served for 28 years, and two of my grandchildren served as well, and I am so proud of them. The fact that, at least, one whole side of my family serves, it just fills me with pride.”

The military helped him discovered talents and skills that Betts did not know he had.

Betts said, “I went in the Navy, and they sent me to code school, and I ended up number one in my class; I took a test and qualified to go to Russian Language School, so I am in Russian Language School, and there were ten of us; I think that I finished seventh.”

At the end of his military career, he was given the offer to come back and teach Russian Language. He was designated a “Communication Technician / Russian Language Specialist” while serving. He taught for two weeks before deciding to return to Youngstown State University to pursue a degree in secondary English education.

Betts said, “They said you are number one in the class, so as tradition, we’d like you to stay and break in the new class. Then, I turned it back over to them after about two weeks, and I just really enjoyed that job, and that is when I found out that I wanted to be a teacher.”

As one can see from his time in the military, his dedication to our country, and the points he made about all of those who served, it is important to honor and to acknowledge veterans and those who are currently serving, not just today, but everyday.

Betts said to the student body, “When you see a veteran or someone who is serving, if you just say thank you, it means so much to them, to me, and to the whole country.”