For their annual Veterans Day assembly, Stanfield students heard from a familiar speaker.
Lou Nakapalau, an Echo city councilor, reprised his role as the Veterans Day speaker after first addressing students at the 2015 assembly.
But this year, Nakapalau, who served in Vietnam and was the only uniformed veteran in attendance, didn’t focus on his own service, or anyone else’s. Instead, he talked about how students shape the world they live in.
“Good, bad or indifferent, you all play a part,” he said. “For some of you, you will be the first in your family to graduate high school, or the first to go to college and earn a degree, thereby making this country better.”
From there, Nakapalau’s speech took a turn. He asked everyone in the audience with a driver’s license to stand up.
“Myself and other combat veterans — chose a profession where the chance of growing old were slim,” he said.
But the biggest combat zone, he said, is the highway. He noted an accident Thursday morning, at Feedville and Edwards roads, which had sent two teenagers to the hospital.
“All you guys are going to have are memories unless you realize that what you have once you put that key in the ignition are weapons,” he said. “For the sake of your friends, loved ones and siblings — please, don’t text and drive.”
Nakapalau, an Echo city councilor, recently drew criticism for making anti-gay comments on Facebook.
Nakapalau’s speech was followed by some patriotic songs by the school band, and a moment of silence.
Next week, students will continue to honor veterans by collecting supplies to send to soldiers. Madison Poulson, a junior and the school’s ASB president, said the students would be placing cardboard boxes around the school starting Monday, and sending the supplies they collected by Nov. 17. She said they were looking for personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, card games and newspapers. They hope to collect enough supplies to send 31 boxes.
“We’ll send them to a platoon overseas,” she said.
The students are also raising money to ship the boxes, as each one costs $17 to ship.