Kansas City teens urged to honor veterans by succeeding in school

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Students at Paseo Academy are taking time to honor military veterans Friday from the urban core.

Some are telling the teens they owe veterans their best efforts in the classroom.

Some veterans say they believe they can serve as role models for struggling students, to show them that service in the military can build character, leadership and discipline needed to be successful in life.

"These young kids today need a whole lot of that man," said Melvin Witcher, a Vietnam veteran. "There are just so many different things going on out on the street today. In my wildest dreams I never thought the street would get this bad for teenaged kids or even smaller kids."

A color guard from Whiteman Air Force Base kicked off the tribute to those who have sacrificed so that America continues to be a land of opportunity.

Some veterans support the idea of mandatory military service for teens as a way to escape crime and lack of opportunities in the urban core.

Other students who are choosing to serve in the military say they want to help others as part of a team.

"There’s not too many people willing to fight for our country, I feel that we need people who are willing to" said Diamond Sparks, who plans to join the Navy after she graduates so that she can become a nurse. "There are not that many people willing to help out people in the military also."

Students are encouraged to learn as much as they can in the classroom, as the best way to honor veterans.

That's the goal of a community involvement program for urban core schools called STOOTS For Boots.

"I think when someone sacrifices to make it possible for us to attend and teach in school we owe them the best that we can give," said Carl Boyd, who founded the program.

For some, respect for the military is a family tradition as generations have served our nation. They say it's not only important to say thanks, but also remember that freedom is never free.