MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A Mobile native, who served in the Army, returned to his high school alma mater this Veterans Day, not to attend but to share with current students stories and lessons from his years of military service.

UMS-Wright Preparatory Academy held its Veterans Day Celebration Friday morning at their football stadium where Mobile native Brad Israel shared with students why he joined the military.

“This very school knew exactly what it was preparing those young men to go forth and face in the world,” said Israel in his speech.

Israel is a U.S. Army Major who began his service in 2005. His driving force to join the military was after the September 11 attacks.

“That was my moment of reflection and realized how easy of a path I’d had in life, and how fortunate I was and given the opportunity to go to college when so many others didn’t,” said Israel. “And I wanted to drop out of school and enlist, and my mentor, General Sam Wilson, said, ‘you need to finish, and if you still feel that strongly about it, then the war is not going anywhere. And you’ll have your opportunity to serve.'”

At least 70 veterans attended the event. After the ceremony, students got the chance to speak with veterans and learn more about their stories.

The Head of School, Doug Barber, says he wants his students to understand the significance of Veterans Day, so they can be more appreciative of what they do for the country.

“Without those sacrifices without those veterans, that willingness to go and serve, we don’t eat, we’re not able to enjoy the things that we have today,” said Barber. “Including education and gathering.”

Israel shared moments about his service, including his time in Afghanistan in 2005 where he was being attacked, but that moment helped him realize why he enlisted in the first place.

“But until it actually happens, and you kind of reflect and say, Oh, my God, these people are really trying to kill us,” said Israel. “You don’t know what that’s like. And so for me, being able to fall back on all those that poured into us and trained us and helped us be prepared for that moment, allowed us to see it through the other, the other side successfully. And those are things that that are so applicable in life, because we’re all going to get knocked down. And we’ve got to see what we need to do and how we can respond to it and not be the victim, but learn from it and have those scars, but the scars are stories. And that’s part of who we all are.”

He encourages people to be appreciative of what they have and to learn from other people’s stories.

UMS-Wright continues to educate students on the significance of Veteran’s Day.

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