Parents, Students, staff and honored guests filled the gym at Blue Ridge Elementary School on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 to honor the past and present service men and women that have made a sacrifice for our great country. As principal, Shannon Miller welcomed everyone, she said
“I want to thank you for all that you have done to secure our freedom and by making our country a great nation. It is certainly true that freedom is not free and it is our responsibility to teach our children that we have to stand for something greater than ourselves. The best way to do this is to instill respect for our country, themselves and others. Our faculty and staff are dedicated to this and make it a priority.”
After Miller addressed the audience, the Honor Guard presented the colors.
After the colors were in place, Lucas Barnstead, Anna Rhodes, Dadrian Flowers and Bryce Ware led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Star Spangled Banner was sang by Taylor Collis, Colton Stiles, Sydney McGill and Laci Pack.
As guests were seated, the significance of the Empty Chair was explained by Richard Crosley. Crosley said that the empty chair is a physical symbol of the thousands of American Prisoners of War or Missing in Action from all of the wars and conflicts.
“The chair cover is a reminder for all of us to share known effort to secure the release of any American prisoners from captivity”
“We must not forget the sacrifices of these comrades are still making and are still enduring for us and our way of life”
he continued. Crosley also said
“They must remain alive in our minds and in our hearts until we know they have returned home to their loved ones or dwell in the house of the Lord forever. We must continue to give moral support to their families who continue to suffer along with them.”
With over 143,000 Prisoners of War and Missing in Action soldiers from the First World War to present, the importance of the empty chair was delivered into the minds of those present.
Fifth grade students Isabella Tocci, Taylor Tarpley, Olivia Sisson, Logan McClure and Henry Leben performed a skit to display the history and importance of Veteran’s Day. The skit was followed by Reagan Dilbeck and Lesley Salas singing God Bless the USA. Their fellow students joined them for the chorus.
The Armed Forces Salute was led by Eli Brisbay, Conner Honeycutt, Max Mathis, Gavin Myers and Brady Martin as they presented the flags for each branch of the military. As each flag was presented, service members affiliated with that branch of service stood for group recognition.
Fifth grade teacher, Brittney Newton took the podium to say how proud of and impressed with the comprehension of the students regarding the importance of this holiday. She continued by reading some of the things that students wrote in the cards they made to give to the Veterans. Gavin Myers wrote
“Dear Veteran, thank you for everything you’ve done. You have served our country well. I could name tons of reasons why I could thank you. You have fought for our freedom, you left your family to protect us. That’s only two, but trust me, I could name many more reasons.”
Another student, Marvin Murphy, said
“Dear Veteran, thank you for protecting our country. Thank you for risking your life for our country. Thank you for letting my family and me to be able to be able to say what we want. Thank you for fighting for our rights and religion. Thank you for everything you have done for this country. I am so thankful for your fighting for our rights and freedom.”
Pricilla Baltista said
“Dear Veteran, thank you for serving our country for so long. You are a really great person for serving our country so we can go to any school we want and for the education. God bless you; you risked your life for us and I want to thank you for what you have done for us.”
With the thank you cards being distributed, a video presentation was made. During the video, various students explained what Veteran’s Day meant to them. Some students shared a personal story about a Veteran in their life. Kinsley Sullivan told the story of her Great Grandfather who was in the Navy and served during the Second World War.
“He was on a ship when the Japanese bombed California but his ship didn’t get bombed”
“When he got out of the Navy, he and my Great Grandmother moved to Wyoming and lived on a ranch”
she continued. Sullivan recalled going to visit her Great Grandfather when he was older and was living in a nursing home in California.
“He lost most of his sight in war”
“He asked me to come close so he could touch my hair and face. My Grandfather said he could tell I was very beautiful and he loved me. I’ll never forget him.”
Sullivan remembered her Grandfather telling her whole family he loved them and that he was never ever going to forget them. A short two years later, she lost her Great Grandfather to cancer while he was still living in California. Other students sharing stories during the video presentation included Simone O’Neal and Allison Nuckolls.
To end the ceremony, Jacie Crowder and Courtney Tamberino asked the crowd for a moment of silence. The third, fourth and fifth grade students sang God Bless America, the colors were retired and everyone was dismissed. A reception was held after the ceremony to allow time for the service members to catch up with one another.
FYN would like to thank all past and present service members for their great sacrifices that makes America the amazing country it is to live in.