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Soldier returns for vet program

Like many schools, West Lincoln Attendance Center held aVeterans Day program Thursday.

There were distinguished guests and courageous veterans inattendance. Students sang patriotic hymns and audience memberslistened to a keynote speaker.

However, West Lincoln was also able to welcome a soldier backhome to the Grizzly Den.

Lance Corp. Cole Wallace graduated from West Lincoln in May2009. Just a few weeks later he would begin his journey in becominga U.S. Marine on June 8.

Stationed on Parris Island in South Carolina for boot camp,Wallace said he left training on Sept. 4 as a new, more determinedperson.

“I couldn’t even begin to explain Parris Island, it’s a wholedifferent place,” Wallace said. “You find out you can do a wholelot more than you thought you could when you’re there.”

Wallace, now stationed in Quantico, Va., made the 16-hour cartrip to visit his family for six days, which is expecting theaddition of one more.

“I have a baby on the way,” exclaimed Wallace.

Wallace and his wife, Shelby Wallace, are expecting their firstchild Dec. 28.

In order with his changing life, Cole Wallace said even visitinghis old stomping grounds during the holiday was not the same.

“It felt completely different,” he said. “Especially on VeteransDay. Now that I’m in, I have a lot more respect for them.”

Wallace visited the school to carry a flag for the program, buthis recent accomplishments drew praise from his former classmatesand teachers after the event.

Educating the audience was just what West Lincoln School set itssights on.

Through a skit at the beginning of the program and throughoutspeeches during the day, lessons were being taught to students andthose in attendance.

“We try to educate them on what a veteran is and the sacrificesthey make,” said librarian Janice Holmes. “We try to instill anappreciation and an understanding for the freedoms they have.”

Understanding freedoms in everyday actions was also the messageof guest speaker retired Army Lt. Col. Malcolm R. Massey.

“Before I write, I thank veterans,” said Massey. “They made itpossible for me to write my opinions.”

The event, which ended with a reception in the library, was notjust a learning experience for civilians and students, but those inthe military as well.

“I think about what we do, and to think what they did, it’smind-boggling,” said Information Systems Technician First ClassJustin Laird.