Four hundred forty-four yellow ribbons will decorate Shelbyville High School gym as veterans take seats at Moulton Middle School’s annual Veterans Day program.
A former Iranian crisis hostage will be the guest speaker at this year’s ceremony. The ribbons symbolize the amount of time he was held hostage in a foreign land.
All veterans and public are invited to the event on Friday, November 8, at the Shelbyville High School gym.
Paul Lewis of Homer, a Marine and one of 52 Americans who were held hostage for 444 days by Iranian militants in 1979-1980, will speak on his experience. Lewis arrived in Iran on November 3, 1979, for embassy duty and was taken hostage on November 4, 1979. He was finally released January 20, 1981, inauguration day for President Ronald Reagan.
“Some of us remember the time, but others know of the situation brought to light by the movie ‘Argo’, said event organizer and teacher Angie Temples.
“The yellow ribbons became a symbol during the hostage crisis, symbolizing the wait for them to come home,” Temples said. The idea came from the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon”, which was popular in the mid-1970s. The symbol is still used today.
Temples always has a teaching unit prior to the Veterans Day event and encourages other district teachers to do the same. During the week prior to the program, veteran relatives of students will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Veterans Day event will feature music by the Middle School chorus, the Eastern Illinois University Drumline, and an appearance by the Patriot Guard.
Veterans will be guests at breakfast at 8:45 a.m. Diabetic-friendly foods will also be offered. Each veteran will receive a gift of appreciation. All veterans will be recognized by their service branch during the ceremony.
“Veterans do not need to register. They can just show up. Any veteran who cannot come can contact the school (Moulton) and a gift will be brought to them,” Temples said.
She added that members of the chorus will also present a short program for veterans at the nursing homes later.