Many Columbia County schools honored veterans of the armed forces Friday for their sacrifice and service in defense of the nation.
At Lewiston Elementary School, students sat on the floor of the cafeteria waving flags as a processional of active-duty military parents and relatives took the stage for a 70-minute ceremony. Their Veterans Day event featured music by an Evans High School brass band and singing by an Evans Middle choir ensemble and the Lewiston Elementary Chorus.
Veterans Day, which was Saturday, was borne out of Armistice Day, the remembrance marking the end of World War I. Coincidentally, the school ceremonies fell on the 231st anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps.
State Sen. Jim Whitehead, R-Evans, a featured speaker at Lewiston Elementary, told students not to take freedom for granted and remember that, in other countries around the world, the right to express one's beliefs is suppressed. Veterans Day, he said, is special because it honors those who gave their lives but also the living who were willing to fight to defend their families and freedoms.
"Don't ever, don't ever, don't ever believe that it's not all right to walk up to one of these people and say 'thank you'," he said.
The event concluded with a montage of photographs depicting family members of the students who served in the armed forces and a solemn performance of the Navy Bell Ceremony to honor fallen sailors.
At Westmont Elementary, Xavier Rivera, of Martinez, was one of many student speakers expressing thanks to veterans. The second grader said he was grateful for his father, Army Sgt. Robert Rivera, for helping defend the country.
"I'm glad that what I do for a job fills him with a lot of pride," the sergeant said after the ceremony.
Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Maher, a substitute teacher for the county, told students that a nation goes to war to protect its national treasure, "and every one of you is our national treasure."
He told students the best way to honor veterans' sacrifice is to do well in school, honor their parents and teachers, and respect the custodians and others who help them.
Also on Friday, the Lakeside High School Wind Ensemble also performed its annual Veterans Day tribute at Warren Baptist Church.
State Sen. Jim Whitehead addresses the students gathered in the commons area at Lewiston Elementary School.
"Don't ever, don't ever, don't ever believe that it's not all right to walk up to one of these people and say 'Thank you,'" he told the children of the veterans gathered around him on the stage. Most were relatives of the students.
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