U.S. Navy Capt. David McAlister challenged all to a life of service. “Find something bigger than yourself and serve others,” he said to students and friends at Christian Academy of Knoxville. “Look for opportunities to serve.”
McAlister, CAK Class of ’89, was the featured speaker at the Veterans Day Program at the campus center gym. He was introduced by head of school Bob Neu.
McAlister acknowledged former CAK band director Greg Wilson, who retired in 2015. “He instilled a love of music in me. He started the marching band at CAK and asked me to be the drum major. That was a turning point in my life. For the first time, I was responsible for others.”
McAlister talked about his responsibilities in the Navy including posting to war zones as well as the White House. (He once played the Easter Bunny, but asked the kids not to tell.) He and wife Jennifer have a son, Elliott, who will have lived in four states by his fourth birthday. That’s a challenge of military life, he said.
“The support structure of the family helps you execute your mission. … It’s the same with CAK – your support system and the foundation of your faith.” He maintains contact with CAK classmates until this day.
He recalled the beginnings of the school at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church and the first building, now the middle school. “When I drove on campus today, I was amazed.”
McAlister was commissioned in 1995 through Office Candidate School upon graduation from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering. He also earned a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College in 2012.
He has been stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Adak, Alaska. He completed deployments to Iraq as commander of Task Force Sierra and to Kuwait in support of Coalition Forces Land Component Command. He spent “a fair amount of time” in Africa. He is qualified as a Seabee Combat Warfare and Fleet Marine Force Officer along with numerous other professional designations.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and wife Kelly were on hand, and Arbor Terrace assisted living facility brought a van with residents. A printed program listed veterans with CAK connections, and musicians including the CAK Concert Band and the high school concert choir provided rousing patriotic songs. Student government president Garrett Brady led the pledge and Abby Hatmaker, student senate president, offered the closing prayer.