Southwestern Elementary School third-grader Brady Mack places a flag in a wreath in honor of his grandfather Joe Kimmel, who was in attendance at the school’s Veterans Day program Monday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Southwestern Elementary School third-grader Brady Mack places a flag in a wreath in honor of his grandfather Joe Kimmel, who was in attendance at the school’s Veterans Day program Monday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Looking back on his military service on Monday, Clayton Bradshaw had plenty of memories to sift through.

The 81-year-old veteran served in the U.S. Army in Korea in 1951 and then in the National Guard for four years. In Korea, Bradshaw served as an engineer tasked with building bridges and widening roads. When he arrived overseas, he said it was January and 30 degrees below zero outside.

"I enjoyed my service," he said. "Now, I look back on all the good things, not the bad."

Bradshaw, who lives in Deputy, was one of about 200 veterans on Monday who attended the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Madison Consolidated High School. Since 2000, he has gone to the ceremony every year.

"There are a lot of programs, but this is the best one I ever saw," he said.

During the program, Senior Master Sgt. Todd Bass, also the vice president of the Madison school board, announced the names and ranks of the veterans who attended the ceremony as part of the traditional roll call.

The ceremony included performances by the Madison choir and band.

Mayor Damon Welch, who served in the Air Force, narrated the program. He said Veterans Day holds a special place in his heart because numerous family members served in the armed forces, including his father and brothers.

"And like many of you, our family has been touched in recent years by the ongoing War on Terror," he said.

Maj James Jackson, a Madison cardiologist, was the keynote speaker. Jackson served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 as a combat medic.

Jackson explained the history of the tradition. Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day, was established as a federal holiday to mark the end of World War I.

Monday was the national observance of Veterans Day because this year Nov. 11 fell on Sunday.

Jackson said to put into focus the service of the veterans, one must look to the sacrifices they made.

"Please clear your minds and open your hearts," he said. "Today, sitting in the place of honor are my brothers and sisters in arms.

"Some of these men have taken a bullet for you. Some of them have lost a limb," he said.

During his service, Jackson said, he often remembers a story about a badly injured solider who was writing a letter to his family on Christmas Day. The man was heavily bandaged and was dictating a letter to a Red Cross worker. Nearby, a group of Vietnamese girls were singing "Silent Night" to the wounded soldiers.

Jackson said the man was writing the letter to inform his family that he had lost both of his legs and eyes. Jackson estimated the soldier was 18 or 19 years old.

"I'll never forget the young man or that scene," he said. "I relive it every Christmas morning and always will.

"Today, we pledge to them all and their families that we will not forget their sacrifice."