Perdido schools hold annual Salute to Veterans program

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Special to the Advance

Close to 100 Veterans plus family members attended the annual Salute to Veterans held at Perdido elementary and middle school last Wednesday.

The annual event began with Veterans and their guests being greeted at their cars and assisted, by the members of Perdido’s football team.

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Once they reached the front of the gym, pre-k and kindergarten students welcomed them with cheers, flags, pom-poms and pinwheels. Members of Alabama’s Patriot Guard stood at attention as all of the guests entered.

Principal Phillip Stewart welcomed everyone followed by the invocation by eighth grader, Travis Snider. Baldwin County High School’s ROTC “Posted the Colors,” and Perdido’s Cub and Boy Scouts led everyone in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, which was followed with the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” by the Perdido Band (with assistance from Perdido Band Alumni), under the direction of Mrs. Melanie Brannon.

Everyone joined in on singing the “Armed Forces Medley,” led by Mrs. Mary Grabill. Students and guests alike enjoyed the BCHS ROTC’s Saber Drill Team’s demonstration.

Perdido Middle School students participated in the annual Patriots Pen Essay Contest, with the school’s top two students sharing the winning entries. Those students were Braxton Scarborough and Jackson Reid. John Jenks was the school’s third place winner.

“What Freedom Means to Me” was the theme for this year, and Scarborough placed first out of 200 in Atmore VFW Post 7016’s competition. His essay will move on to the district competition.

Post Commander Billy Gates and School Coordinator Noah McBride presented each of the students with a certificate and a check.

Guest speaker was Vietnam Veteran and recently retired Veterans Service Officer for Escambia County, Mike Hanks. Hanks spoke to students and Veterans of his love and appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. He shared how during his 1970-1971 tour in Vietnam, he truly realized just how blessed he was to live in the United States.

Students commented afterwards they had no idea places existed in the world that didn’t even have a garbage dump, because the people had nothing to throw away. He went on to remind the students that one day soon, they would be the ones to carry on the defense of our country.

The Alabama state flag, flown over the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was presented to the school by Gerri McDonald. Her daughter, Melanie, a former Perdido School student, performed with the UAB Band at the Missouri in April 2014, and acquired the flag for the school’s “Heroes Hall.” Assistant Principal Donnashele Bruister shared the background information, which included, “The USS Missouri played a crucial and unforgettable role in the defense of America in three wars spanning more than four decades. The battleship’s support of America’s military forces was just as vital in the Gulf War in 1991, as it was in the Pacific Theater 46 years earlier. The USS Missouri’s place in America’s history was forever immortalized as the site of the Sept. 2, 1945 signing of the instrument of surrender, ending World War II. Additional presentations of United States and Army flags were made to two World War II Veterans, Mr. Raymond Norris and Mr. Billy Ward.