Sharp salutes the troops

School hosts an­nual event to honor vet­er­ans

The Covington News - - OPINION -

By Jenny Thompson jthomp­son@cov­news.com

Sharp Learn­ing Cen­ter stu­dents and fac­ulty as well as lo­cal vet­er­ans and elected of­fi­cials par­tic­i­pated in the school’s fifth an­nual Vet­er­ans Day ap­pre­ci­a­tion pro­gram Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

The pro­gram be­gan with Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 233 pre­sent­ing the col­ors

In its first per­for­mance since it formed, the Sharp Tiger Choir sang the na­tional an­them and “I Be­lieve I Can Fly.” Wendi Brooks’ fifth grade class from Fic­quett El­e­men­tary School re­cited the Pledge of Al­le­giance.

Sharp Prin­ci­pal Gabriel Bur­nette, also a first lieu­tenant in the Army, then greeted those who at­tended.

“It is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine what the United States would be like if we didn’t have those in our midst who were will­ing to sac­ri­fice to pro­tect our na­tion,” Bur­nette said.

He also pro­vided a brief his­tory of Vet­er­ans Day say­ing Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son de­clared Nov. 11 Ar­mistice Day at the end of WorldWar I and Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower gave the hol­i­day its cur­rent name in 1954.

“Vet­er­ans Day gives us a time to pub­licly claim our ap­pre­ci­a­tion of their ef­forts,” Bur­nette said.

He said a sol­dier’s com­mit­ment re­quires acom­mit­mentin turn­from those he or she leaves be­hind.

“We must find ways to ac­tively, not pas­sively re­pay this debt,” Bur­nette said.

Visit­ing vet­er­ans in the hospi­tal, sup­port­ing their fam­i­lies at home and writ­ing let­ters to those serv­ing over­seas are­ways Bur­nette en­cour­aged the au­di­ence to cham­pion the ef­forts of mem­bers of the mil­i­tary.

Thekeynote speaker ofWed­nes­day’s pro­gram was Army Lt. Col. Steven C. Smith

He said usu­ally in his speeches at school he en­cour­ages stu­dents to do well in school, progress and set goals for them­selves.

Wed­nes­day his is­sued a chal­lenge to ed­u­ca­tors.

“Take a minute, step back from your nor­mal du­ties,” Smith said. “and think ‘is this for me?’”

Smith said if a teacher is not com­pletely ded­i­cated to stu­dent suc­cess they are do­ing the chil­dren they teach a dis­ser­vice.

As a men­tal health coun­selor for the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tions, Smith said he has seen many young peo­ple come into the prison sys­tem who said adults in their lives did not care about them.

Smith also spoke to the theme of the pro­gram — “Free­dom Is Not Free” — say­ing if peo­ple did not un­der­stand the mean­ing of this then the coun­try had a prob­lem.

He added free­dom comes at a cost not only to those who serve in the armed forces, but also their fam­i­lies and the United States work­force.

Af­ter Smith’s speech, the Fort McPher­son Army Ground Forces Band played a few pa­tri­otic se­lec­tions be­gin­ning with a John Phillip Sousa piece.

They then played “The Bat­tle of Tren­ton”— a song ded­i­cated to the sur­prise Christ­mas Day at­tack against Bri­tish forces, which many his­to­ri­ans re­gard as the turn­ing point of the Amer­i­can Revo­lu­tion­aryWar.

In the piece, thuds of the bass dr um rep­re­sent can­non fire and “Yan­kee Doo­dle” can be heard as a taunt to the prim­ness of the English forces.

Per­cus­sion sig­ni­fy­ing ex­plo­sions of war were also fea­tured in the “Fort McHenry Suite.” Dur­ing the War of 1812, the Bri­tish Navy at­tacked Fort McHenry. Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Span­gled Ban­ner,” which can be heard faintly in the suite, dur­ing the siege.

Au­di­ence mem­bers who served in the United States mil­i­tary or had fam­ily mem­bers who did or are serv­ing were asked to stand when their branch’s theme was played dur­ing “The Armed Forces Ser­vice Med­ley.”

The band con­cluded their per­for­mance with Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes For­ever.”

Post 233 Le­gion Rid­ers then con­ducted the solemn cer­e­mony of the lay­ing of the wreath for those who have fallen in bat­tle and were buried uniden­ti­fied or in un­marked graves.

Bur­nette ended the event by say­ing spe­cial pro­grams are not needed to show troops ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

“Sim­ply of­fer them your hand, and thank them for their ser­vice,” Bur­nette said. “As long as there are men and women will­ing to serve our coun­try, there should be those will­ing to stand up and honor their ser­vice.”

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

The wreath: Mem­bers of the Amer­i­can Le­gion Rid­ers from Post 233 in Lo­ganville, lead by Gary Le­monds, front left, and Stan Mauldin carry a wreath across the gym dur­ing a lay­ing of the wreath cer­e­mony at the Vet­eran’s Day cel­e­bra­tion hosted by Sharp Learn­ing Cen­ter Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Poem: Michael Fer­gu­son, an 11th grade stu­dent at Sharp Learn­ing Cen­ter, reads a pa­tri­otic poem dur­ing a cer­e­mony honor­ing vet­er­ans at the lo­cal school Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Tiger Choir: Sharp Learn­ing Cen­ter’s choir gave their first pub­lic per­for­mance at the school’s vet­er­ans ap­pre­ci­a­tion pro­gram Wed­nes­day. They are Di­rec­tor An­gela Sprowal, left, Alyvia Cullars, Mar­shayla Woods, Brit­tanei Sim­mons, Shana Perez, Jas­mine Dal­las, Si­mone Sam­ple, Di­rec­tor Staretta Cooper and Tabitha Spauld­ing.

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