Veterans welcome to Manila Middle School
"Freedom isn't free" was the message at Manila Middle School as they welcomed veterans Wednesday, Nov. 7, for a special ceremony. Veterans were greeted at the door by students offering a program and a show of gratitude for their service.
Principal LeAnn Helms welcomed veterans and guests.
Middle school student Tri Jones sang the National Anthem and the Manila Cub Scouts presented the Colors.
A 2012 Veterans Day video, in memory of those who gave their all and in honor of those who risked their lives, was shown.
Several students presented a veteran's poem.
Guest speaker was Donna Jackson. Ms. Jackson is working on a veterans book honoring local veterans from World War I through Vietnam.
"I was asked to speak about respect," Jackson said. "Respect for ourselves guides our morals. Respect for others guides our manners. Today, we are honoring our veterans. They deserve our best because they gave their best."
She encouraged students when they see a veteran to say thank you to that person.
"Respect is more than a word," she said. "If everyone truly showed respect to each other, there would be no more war, no fights in school, and no conflicts between parents at home. We have all heard the Golden Rule. We should treat others like we want to be treated."
She challenged students to show parents, teachers and others respect even when opinions are not the same. She said homes, schools, town and the country will be a better place if respect is shown.
"I am proud of you, you have listened to me and you have shown me respect today," Jackson said. "I want to introduce you to someone who has earned my respect. He is honest, trustworthy, and grew up in our town. He joined the Army in World War II after Pearl Harbor. He knew he had a job to do. He was captured. His freedom was taken away. He became a prisoner. His liberty was gone. He slept in a cold, unheated place with no blanket. It shaped his life. It made him stronger but he is gentle. He went on to be a successful businessman, raised two children, plays the mandolin in an orchestra and flew in from California for this program. He attended last year's veterans program and he is back this year. I want you to meet my friend, J.D. Forsythe."
The students presented "The Bravest Man I Know" and "Hero."
"Honoring our veterans has become a tradition here," Helms said. "Each of you is a hero. Because of what you did, these children have the opportunity to receive a free education in a good place."
Helms shared a personal note of her lifelong hero, her dad, Roger Ferrell, a Navy veteran who served on the USS Hornet.
"He returned from the navy, worked hard, raised two children and had a dream to send his two kids to college to make a difference," Helms said. "He taught us no one could hold you back. He wanted us to know life skills and always be a part of the land of the free. He is my lifelong hero, my dad. I know many of your children have similar stories. It is amazing the impact you have had on all of us. All we can say is thank you."
Manila Middle School students closed the program with a special thank you presentation to the veterans who received a standing ovation.