Capping a rousing rendition of “God Bless the USA,” the well-known patriotic tune penned and performed by Lee Greenwood, the students lifted their songbooks in front of their faces.
Some of the song books were red. Some were white. Some were blue with white stars. Together, with the students holding them side by side in the bleachers of the gymnasium, they formed an American flag.
Above the students, on the white cinderblock wall behind the red wooden bleachers, was the title of the song spelled out in red letters cut from construction paper.
The students’ flag impressed Terry Spencer, one of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5578 members in attendance.
“Look at that,” said Spencer, an Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War. “That sure is neat. Those kids did a great job.”
The Veterans Day Program is an annual event at Jeffrey-Spencer Elementary School, Principal Joshua Bacchus said.
“More and more people attend each year,” he said. “The kids enjoy it. It gives the kids a chance to let the veterans know that they are appreciated.”
It took Bacchus’ students and teachers about a month to prepare and practice for the program, he said.
Cornelia Bolton “mainly headed it up,” Bacchus said. “Each classroom had their own part in the presentation, and they practiced their songs or their lines in their rooms.
“Each student and every teacher were able to have a part in the program,” he added.
Fifth-grade students Lindsey Cook and Sydney Stollings shared the duties of master of ceremonies, taking turns announcing each act.
Pre-school students started the program by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Led by Bolton, who served as the musical conductor, the student body followed with a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Next were presentations by the kindergarten students (Stars and Stripes/Our Country's Flag) and first-grade students (F is for Flag).
The student body followed with another song, “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
Then it was time for the second-grade students’ performance (Oh, Veterans/The American Way).
The student body followed with the state song, “West Virginia Hills.”
Next was a presentation by the third-grade students (I Am The Flag). Afterward, they sang “This Land is Your Land” with help from their fourth- and fifth-grade students.
Then it was time for the fourth-grade students’ routine (Major Branches of the American Armed Forces).
The student body followed with another song, “American Tears.”
Next was a presentation by the fifth-grade students (A Salute to Our Veterans) followed by a slide show.
Before the students sang their final song, veterans of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard received certificates recognizing them for their service.
“We really, really appreciate the time and effort they put into it,” said VFW Post 5578 Commander Mike Dunlap, a Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War. “We enjoy programs like this one.
“We get invited to a lot of schools and churches. It is impossible for us to get to them all, but we try to get to as many as we can. This week is a humongous week for us.”
In addition to Dunlap and Spencer, VFW Post 5578 members Harold Brown (Army/Vietnam War), Paul Cooper (Navy/Cuban Missile Crisis), Butch Jarrell (Air Force/Vietnam War), Jessie Marcum (Army/Korean War) and Junior Moore (Army/Vietnam War) attended the event, where they had front-row seats for the patriotic performances.
Veterans Day was Sunday.
It is a state and federal holiday that honors military veterans from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy. It falls on Nov. 11 each year -- it marks the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I, which formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, according to www.wikipedia.com.
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Dunlap said VFW Post 5578 members have started their annual Christmas Food Basket Drive.
“We are trying to do our part,” he said. “We are trying to help the needy. We can't do any of this without the help of the citizens of Boone County and Madison.”
Contact Managing Editor Jacob Messer at email@example.com or 369-1165.