McNicholas once again welcomed many veterans during its annual Veterans Day Assembly on Thursday, Nov. 11. This year’s guests included alumni as well as those who traveled with former McNicholas students and the Gary Sinise Foundation in April 2019 to visit the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Veterans were again able come into the school, unlike in 2020, when students had to watch a pre-recorded video of interviews with veterans due to Covid-19 protocols.
The assembly opened with Major Dan Wilcox explained what he had seen when he went to Afghanistan. He shared what he saw in Afghanistan, which included girls being dumped with acid just because they wanted to attend school. Students and teachers would never know if they would make it out of school that day. After Wilcox shared his stories, he introduced the nearly full gymnasium of students, faculty, and guests to Sergeant Major Henry Armstrong.
Armstrong greeted the audience of fellow veterans, students, faculty, staff, and other guests with stories about the “funnier times” he had and the times that surprised him instead of the stories with “gore.” One of his stories was about when he was injured in a conflict with a German office and earned himself a “two-week vacation” in the hospital after getting shot in his hand and wrist.
Rick Ahlrich, Chuck McDonald, and Jim Hay were part of the guests McNick welcomed. Ahlrich was part of the Army and graduated from McNick in 1969, McDonald was in the Air Force and graduated from Anderson in 1966, and Hay was in the Navy and graduated from McNick in 1977. The men joined the military at 18 because they said they felt like they had to, though many people criticized them for it. They all agreed that being in the military was the best experience. Hay said, “If I could go back, I would in a heartbeat.”
After the assembly, veterans in attendance were invited to a special breakfast in the cafeteria where they also met with student ambassadors to share more stories from their service.