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Retired Army Colonel Dave Hughes speaks at the Veterans Day assembly Nov. 10 in the West Middle/Elementary School gym. In the foreground is the middle school band, which performed during the event, including the playing of the National Anthem. Later in his talk, Hughes taught that a form of respect for veterans is to stand before them and hold a salute, "and they will salute you back."
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'They will salute you back' - West students learn how they can honor veterans

The West Middle School Choir sang "A Tribute to Armed Forces," consisting of excerpts from tunes representative of branches of the United States miliary.
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Nov. 11, 2017
       Although he's now nearly 90, Dave Hughes hasn't forgotten what it's like to be a kid.
       The retired, highly decorated Army colonel and revered Westside leader, who was the featured speaker at the West Campus' annual Veterans Day assembly Nov. 10 in the school gym, used the opportunity to show his audience a quiet but meaningful way to honor military service members.
       Salute them.
       “If you stand in front of a veteran and hold the salute, he will salute you back,” said Hughes. And he proceeded to illustrate by saluting the students. So for a couple of seconds, as he stood there in military posture with his straightened hand above his right eyebrow and under his 7th Cavalry hat, most of the roughly 600 students in attendance copied his pose.
       Afterwards, Hughes elaborated that the words, “Thank you for your service” - the best known way to express appreciation to a vet - “can be hard for children to say.” But a salute is simple and just as respectful, he explained.
       The campus consists of West Middle School (grades 6-8) and West Elementary (K-5). This was the fifth year for the combined schools' Veterans
For his talk to the West Campus students, Dave Hughes brought his Bennington flag, circa 1777, the first to show all 13 stars.
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Day event. Each time, one or more military figures from the area have been featured, and all veterans are invited.
       In addition, American Legion Centennial Post 209 presents the colors, school staffers who served are asked to stand, and the middle school band and choirs from both schools perform military-appreciation songs.
       In introducing Hughes, West Middle School Principal Shalah Sims summarized his military career, which included graduating from West Point as a lieutenant in 1950, fighting in both the Korean and Vietnam wars and retiring as chief of staff at Fort Carson. Calling him a “treasure to the community,” she also noted his leadership on Old Colorado City's revitalization dating back to the 1970s.
       An insert in the assembly program reprinted a Westside Pioneer article about Hughes from 2004. The article described his leading a desperate charge to take a key hill from Chinese troops during the Korean War (which earned him the Distinguished Service Cross), and in '04 receiving its Distinguished Graduate Award.
       In his roughly 15-minute speech, Hughes did not talk much about himself, although he did note that in the Korean War 40 of his West Point classmates were killed in action.
       He emphasized the historical significance of the American military, including a display of his own copy of the famous Bennington flag - the first American flag with the 13 stars of the colonies - which was first unfurled at the 1777 Battle of Bennington (Vermont).
       He also explained the difference between Memorial Day (honoring American soldiers who died in war) and Veterans Day (honoring all who've served).
       And he gave the history of the salute. It dates back 1,000 years, to knights wearing armor with visors over their faces and the right hand raising the visor to a fellow knight.
       “A salute means you see a friend,” Hughes told the students, then added, with a grin, “I don't see any enemies here.”

Westside Pioneer article
(Schools: Elementary & Middle Schools)

LEFT: West Middle School Principal Shalah Sims holds up samples of rocks that were patriotically painted by staffers. In keeping with the recent "painted rocks" fad, they will be left in various places for people to pick up and keep, if they like, Sims explained. RIGHT: In another public school observation of Veterans Day Nov. 10, classes from North Middle School and Midland Elementary placed small flags on each of approximately 430 veterans' gravesites in Fairview Cemetery Nov. 10.
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