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in praise of america’s veterans

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
SoVaNow.com / November 14, 2012
Amid a sea of red, white and blue, the towns of South Hill and Clarksville held events Monday to commemorate Veterans Day and honor those who have served the country in war and peace.

In Clarksville, fourth grade students from around Mecklenburg County heard about the sacrifices of men and women who serve in the military. In South Hill, fifth grade students lined the sidewalk at the town’s Veterans Memorial Park, waving miniature American flags and taking in the ceremony.

Retired Major General Bruce Robinson, a South Hill attorney, delivered remarks at the South Hill event that touched on the history of Mount Rushmore — and the presidents who adorn its face, who often led the country in times of war —at the same time he struck an occasional bemused tone.

Robinson gave five reasons for wanting to serve in the military — to get a new set of parents, also known as drill sergeants; get an education at any school you want to attend; “hots and a cot” (now known as meals ready to eat and military housing); to serve the nation; and, he said with a mild laugh, to enjoy freebies and perks on Veterans Day.

Becoming serious, Robinson said Veterans Day reminds us to always say “thank you” to those who serve our county — and never forget what it means to be a veteran.

In Clarksville, Air Force Major Bonnie L. Hoffmann and the members of the Park View High School AFJROTC provided the keynote remarks at this year’s celebration.

The program, put on by the members of the Clarksville Veterans Memorial Committee, is a learning tool for fourth grade students in the county, in addition to an opportunity to honor local veterans.

This year Hoffmann and her young cadets spoke to the assembled children about sacrifice, such as the sacrifice made by members of the military. Charlie Simmons added another lesson about sacrifice and valor, telling students about the life and heroic deeds of Sgt. Earle Gregory, the first recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Committee Member Grace Taylor said that Hoffmann was an idea speaker for the ceremony because of her dual role as an educator and a retired member of the military. Hoffmann spent 23 years in the military, first as a Sgt. in the army and then as a Major in the Air Force.

Hoffman has been a Squadron Commander, personnel officer, and protocol officer during her numerous worldwide assignments. She was even featured on the cover of US News and World Report magazine in an article on female soldiers in combat.

Her tours of duty have taken her from the Azores to Japan, with stops in the Pentagon and Korea. She was the first woman and first Army journalist to earn Soldier of the Year, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Alaskan Forces, Alaska. She also earned the Department of Defense and Army’s highest journalism awards for a six-part series on child abuse that she researched, wrote, and photographed.

Hoffmann holds two masters degrees — in community services and communications, and a B.S. in Journalism and English — as well as a Virginia Teaching License with endorsements in English and AFJROTC.

Since retiring from the military, Hoffmann has taught AFJROTC Senior Aerospace Science at Park View High School, which focuses on Leadership, Aviation History, Global Awareness, Survival, Career and Life Skills, Communication, and Drill and Ceremonies. Between August 2008 and January 2012 she also taught English and Social Studies.

Before the students were dismissed, they were challenged by emcee Glenn Edwards to write a personal one-page essay on “What a Veteran Means To Me.” The essays, which must be in the hands of the Clarksville Memorial Committee on or before January 10, 2013, will be reviewed by the Committee, and a winner selected. The winning essay writer will receive a $500 savings bond..

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