Operation Bugle Boy's Veterans Appreciation Night earlier this month didn't exclusively honor veterans but also honored a local teacher for his involvement in efforts to serve those who served.
Nathan Holtmeyer, 35, teaches government and modern war-focused classes at Blair Oaks High School. Holtmeyer also received the Pete and late Lorraine Adkins Patriot Award at Operation Bugle Boy's appreciation night.
"I never thought I was on that same level as them," he said later of being honored as others he's seen giving a lot to serve veterans.
He gives his students most of the credit in activities to serve veterans, but his coordination efforts as Blair Oaks' liaison to Operation Bugle Boy have not gone unnoticed elsewhere, either.
A last week's school board meeting, Blair Oaks' Superintendent Jim Jones noted in the final days before Operation Bugle Boy, he told high school Principal Melinda Aholt "We don't even understand how much we owe Nathan Holtmeyer for his work in that operation to represent the district, her building, really all of us," and added "it was an honor for Pete Adkins to honor Nathan with the Pete and Lorraine Adkins Patriot Award at the Operation Bugle Boy event. He puts in a tremendous amount of time in that effort."
Holtmeyer said he has been Blair Oaks' liaison to Operation Bugle Boy since 2013. He's taught at the high school since 2006 and taught middle school in Mexico before that. He's from St. Louis.
"Government's nice because you're laying the foundation for them to be productive members of society," he said of his favorite classes to teach. He wants his students to be able to "put fact behind their feelings" when it comes to politics, and he sees teaching the Constitution as a foundational element.
However, he said his war-focused classes are thorough, too. Depending on the semester or year, the class might cover the World Wars, Korean War, Vietnam War or the U.S.' post-9/11 combat operations in the Middle East.
The last one might be the most "pertinent to what's happening today," but Holtmeyer added he also has students look at the contexts behind wars, from ancient history to the present day.
In terms of serving veterans beyond Operation Bugle Boy's annual Veterans Appreciation Night, he said Blair Oaks students have been involved in activities including "Wrist Bands for Heroes," chicken dinners for fundraising, "Cookies for Murph," making care packages and "Wave 'Em If You Have 'Em," which is held before Veterans Appreciation Night.
Holtmeyer hopes his teaching and the veteran-focused service he leads give students a realization of the sacrifices veterans and first-responders make.
He his not a veteran, but said his grandfather and great-uncle and his wife's grandfather served, though.
He and Laura, his wife, have two children, 8-year-old daughter Ella and 5-year-old son Everett. They live in Cole County, outside Jefferson City.
In addition to teaching, at Blair Oaks he's also head track and field coach, assistant wrestling coach at the high school and head coach at Blair Oaks Middle School.