‘Be the blessing,’ Master Sgt. Robert Key tells LBC Middle students
BATH — Master Sgt. Robert Key had a simple but powerful message Wednesday for students at Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle School: “Be the blessing.”
Key, who grew up in Windsor, spoke at LBC’s annual Veterans Day program, which featured tributes to America’s service men and women in music, song and spoken word. More than 30 veterans attended.
“Throughout life, be the blessing, not the one who is distracting the blessings of others,” Key told the students. “You see it every day. Turn on the TV, and somebody got shot for no apparent reason other than someone else said I don’t like life. But if you love your life and you love what you’re doing, you can look forward to living an abundant life, a blessed life. That’s my whole message.”
Key, who served eight years on active duty in the U.S. Army and 31 years in the Reserves, said being the 10th of 12 children helped prepare him for his career in the military.
“When I got there, I didn’t have a problem taking orders – saying, yes, sir, and no, sir, and yes, ma’am, and no ma’am,” said Key, who trained at Fort Jackson in Columbia. “When drill sergeant told us to move, the answer was: where to? And when he said, go: they answer was how far? Once you learn to love what you do, it’s no longer a job – it’s a career. And careers help you through life.
“Everything is interactive. What these students are learning in school will carry them in life. Knowledge is power.”
Sarah Johnson, who has been a member of the Area 3 Advisory Council for 42 years, said Key “hit on all parts of life that the children should direct their lives in.”
“It was wonderful. He wanted to put all the children on the right track,” she said. “I told him he was born a good, country boy.”
Every school in Area 3, which includes the Midland Valley and Graniteville areas, honored veterans with special programs this year, spacing them out over several days to allow the veterans and area residents to attend as many as they could, Johnson said.
“Every one was packed,” she said. “I’m so thankful that all the children got to see this part of life, and they need it yearly so they never forget. I love Area 3, and I love how our teachers and principals – our mothers and daddies – they are forming their children to appreciate what they’ve got on this Earth.”
Principal Paul Spadaro said veterans are a “big part” of the Area 3 community, adding that Derrick Parker, LBC’s band director, is a U.S. Army veteran.
“We’re going to continue this tradition as a great way to honor them,” he said after the program. “Maybe one day, this program will have an impact on some of our students’ lives, and they will want to go into the armed services, serve our country and, one day, return as a veteran.”