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Green High School honors veterans in ceremony

11/8/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Joyce Rainey Long

Shown above are veterans and their families parading through the halls of Green High School Nov. 1. They were led by the Green Marching Band and escorted by Junior ROTC students.
Jep Crum, a World War II veteran from Green who served in the U.S. Army, is shown above, speaking with social studies teach Megan Miller, who helped organize the program.
The Green High School Ensemble sang at a ceremony and Principal Cindy Brown spoke at the event.
Photos: Joyce Rainey Long
GREEN — American heroes were celebrated and honored at a Veterans Day parade and ceremony at Green High School Nov. 1.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to do this and to say thank you for what they [the veterans] have done for us,” said Green Local Schools Superintendent Mike Nutter.

Gabriel Gladwell, shown above, a senior in the ROTC, designed a gold coin that was presented to all of the veterans. The coin, shown below, featured a bulldog with a spiked collar.
About 60 veterans and their families attended a program that began with a parade down the halls of the school while students cheered and waved flags, and which also included breakfast. The school was decorated with red, white and blue patriotic signs and banners, according to Megan Miller, who coordinated the event with Mark Tomecko, both social studies teachers. Students invited friends and family members who served in the U.S. Armed Forces to attend the program, Tomecko said.

“It was important for individual students to invite veterans who were special to them to learn about what their grandfathers, uncles, neighbors and friends did in service to their country, and to see these veterans get the accolades and respect of a grateful nation firsthand,” said Tomecko. “We wanted this to be a very personal experience for our students and the veterans.”

The parade was led by the Green High School Marching Band, and students in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) escorted the veterans. Following the parade, a ceremony was held to recognize veterans who served in World War II and the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, along with those who served during peacetime. Freshmen American history students prepared a slide show about each conflict, which was shown at the ceremony while seniors in the National Honor Society read background information written by Tomecko.

Each veteran was presented with a gold coin that featured a bulldog with a spiked collar and was designed by Gabriel Gladwell, a senior who is in the ROTC.

“It was to represent Green High School and to show the veterans were tough,” said Gladwell.

The coins also included the phrases “A thankful nation” and “Per aspera ad astra,” which means rough roads lead to the stars, according to Gladwell. Emblems from all of the branches of the services were on the back of the coin with a rope along the edge holding all the branches together, he added.

“It meant so much that our school did something so big and so great for veterans,” said Gladwell.

Green resident Robert Spay, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1955 to 1958, was invited to the program by his granddaughter Kelie Spay, a freshman.

“This brought tears to my eyes. It was overwhelming to see all the students [at the parade],” said Robert Spay’s wife, Joanne Spay, who also attended the event. “It was nice to see young people being patriotic.”

For Miller, this event was personal. She is a volunteer with Honor Flight, a nonprofit organization that transports veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials.

“These veterans are the very definition of what this country stands for, and they needed to be honored for their sacrifices both home and abroad. We are forever indebted to these men,” said Miller.

Clay Kingan, a senior National Honor Society student who helped usher at the program, said the program was heartwarming for him.

“This was eye-opening to learn what veterans went through,” he said.

Principal Cindy Brown thanked the veterans at the ceremony for their patriotism and for sharing their experience with students.

“The opportunity to experience the true meaning of Veterans Day is valuable to the students,” she said.

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