Sponsored by the Purdy High School Chapter of the National Honor Society, the assembly included music by the band, directed by James Adams, and the choir, directed by Lauren Lee. The program began with the band and choir playing "Armed Forces--The Pride of America," featuring the tunes for each of the branches of the Armed Services. Flags for each branch were brought in to a round of applause.
Tyler Fletcher led his fellow students in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Shelby Scott read a poem about service in the military. The band then played "Let Freedom Ring." The choir then sang "Why Have The Fallen Gone?"
Throughout the program, a raised screen displayed projections of Purdy residents, family members or family of faculty members in uniform with their personal history of service.
As an entertaining diversion, members of the Purdy FFA Chapter helped set up an obstacle course of tires, hay bales and a roped crawling space. Andrew Brandt, who participates in the Junior ROTC program at the Southwest Area Career Center, simulated a boot camp drill, overseeing races between both boys and girls representing each of the high school classes.
Pastor Ken Dodson, from the Freewill Baptist Church in Monett, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was the featured speaker. Dodson recounted how he had come from a typical teenage high school experience into military service, unable to find a job in light of the military draft. Dodson told about his best friend in the Army and how they enjoyed a generally easy life of duty until July 21, 1967.
On that day the armored scout unit in which both men served rolled out and into an ambush by two battalions of Viet Cong soldiers. Dodson's friend was hit in the first assault and trapped in a burning vehicle. Dodson was unable to reach him. Dodson graphically described the fighting and how air support finally rescued the Americans after several hours, too late to save Dodson's friend.
"From then on I had more compassion and more desire to serve the captain of my salvation," Dodson said, "I realized America is made of veterans who are willing to give their lives. I'm thankful for our veterans, for they know how to say, 'I love America.'"
Twenty-three veterans in the crowd were asked to stand. Each told their names and years and branch. Students applauded each veteran.
Madeline Tate asked her classmates to hold a moment of silence for all those who had given their lives in military service. The veterans then left the gym ahead of the students for a reception in their honor, which was held in the school library and hosted by the National Honor Society.