W.A. Wright Elementary School hosted its first-ever Veterans Day program Thursday to show appreciation for local veterans' service to our country.
Principal Jill Giles welcomed the veterans in attendance by saying, "We say thank you, and we honor you as our heroes and special guests."
Event coordinator and school guidance counselor Laurie Drummond addressed the audience recognizing the significance of each of the special guests.
"They have served our country in our homeland and also in many different countries worldwide," she said. Following her introduction, she asked each of the veterans to stand to receive a thank-you card with a handwritten note from one of the students in the school. All students, grades kindergarten through fifth, were given the opportunity to write a special message and to decorate and color the thank-you notes.
There were 41 veterans at the ceremony and many family members attended as well. Some of the veterans represented had children or grandchildren who attend the school, and those students were asked to stand and be recognized as well.
A special introduction was given to Ethan Elden Dozier, who was applauded by all in the full gymnasium.
"One of our guests has received a special military honor…he is a Purple Heart recipient and a World War II veteran, and we are honored to have him with us today," said Drummond.
The guest speaker, Dawayne Mason, currently works with the Veterans Administration following a 26-year career in active service.
"I am very honored today to be asked to come here to say a few things about Veterans Day," said Mason.
"I stand before you right now, very humbled to be standing in front of my brothers and sisters who sacrificed hours, years, in service to their country.
"A lot of people will confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day," he told the students. "Memorial day was actually established to honor the veterans who have paid the supreme sacrifice and died in service to our country. Veterans Day actually started as Armistice Day, which was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when World War I ended. In 1954 they actually changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day as we know it today."
He concluded his speech with a small request of those in the audience.
"The job that I perform at the veterans hospital was one that I chose about five years ago. Being a veteran, I can relate to a lot of stories that they have. I had the opportunity of meeting a gentleman from the Vietnam war one day, he was just now coming to the VA system. I walked up to him and said, 'Thank you, sir, for your service' and I could see the tears form up in his eyes, and he said, 'No one's ever told me that before.' So if you see a veteran, thank them for their service. It will honor them."
Drummond said she was "very pleased" with the turnout and is hoping to continue the program next year.