Veterans Day 2019

O’Neal grad discusses military career with elementary students
Posted on 11/20/2019
Lisa Bratton

Gulf War veteran Lisa Bratton of the U.S. Air Force returned to her elementary school to speak with students about her service on Monday, Nov. 11, in observance of Veterans Day. 

Bratton, a Poplar Bluff High School graduate, served as the keynote during O’Neal’s fourth annual Veterans Day Assembly, organized by paraprofessional Annette Wells, past president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 153. 

“By doing my homework and listening to my teachers, I was able to follow my dreams and travel the world, and serve my country,” said Bratton to the school-wide audience. “I am thankful to O’Neal Elementary for laying the foundation of success in my life and in the United States Air Force.” 

Hailing from a line of wartime veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, Bratton said she made up her mind to join the military at the young age of 10. She worked hard to finish high school by age 16, attended Three Rivers College for two years, and enlisted one month after her 18th birthday, she recalled. 

Employed as a communications computer systems specialist, Bratton was variously stationed overseas in Honduras, the Royal Air Force Base in England, Saudi Arabia and Azores, a volcanic island on the Atlantic Ocean. During a transfer to Nebraska, she worked three stories underground, and became the Air Force’s very last female buck sergeant, she said. 

Students were asked to invite family veterans to attend the program, and the event saw representation from military parents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents and friends. For those who did not have living veterans available to participate, military ancestors were honored throughout the hallways, where a special parade was arranged for the guests. 

Afterward, veterans were encouraged to enjoy a snack with their students. Wells referred to the visitors as "real-life superheroes,” informing the students that: “Nobody [has] fought harder for your freedom than [who] you are surrounded by.” 

“The earlier you can start teaching flag etiquette and who our vets are, the deeper the appreciation,” Wells commented in a subsequent interview. Her husband Charlie, also in attendance, was a submarine sailor who fought in the Vietnam War. She noted that she is thankful for O’Neal Principal Dr. Amy Dill, who has supported her efforts to organize the public event each year. 

This year’s event sponsorship recognition belongs to: the Auxiliary for volunteering; VFW Post 6477 for donating flags; Bears Lodge 47 for purchasing the signage through 4M; and the Bee Hive for buying discounted donuts from Dunkin.’ Other schools across campus were also fortunate enough to host veterans, who agreed to discuss with students the importance of the American holiday. 

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Cutline: Keynote speaker Lisa Bratton, a Desert Storm veteran, talks to students about her early calling to serve her country.

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