World War II veterans Bob Harris, left, Colin Monteith and Reuben Mobley walked into the gym on Monday to participate in a Veterans Day ceremony at Grace Snell Middle. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
LOGANVILLE — With familiar tunes like “America the Beautiful” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” several dozen students at Grace Snell Middle struck a patriotic chord on Monday.
More than 40 military veterans were honored at the school’s third annual Veterans Day ceremony in the school’s gym. Seventh-grade social studies teacher Linda Cashion, the daughter of a Korean War veteran, organized the program, which featured the school’s orchestra, chorus and a certificate and medal for each veteran.
“It gives them a sense of pride and patriotism, and the understanding,” Cashion said. “These kids need to know there are a lot of men and women who have sacrificed for them. It just brings it to life for them, to see who real heroes are, not television heroes.”
Principal Joyce Spraggs opened the program thanking the veterans for their service, “from the bottom of our hearts.”
Three World War II veterans were in attendance, including Colin Monteith of Lilburn, who served in the Marine Corps, and fought in Saipan and Okinawa, Japan. This is the second year Monteith visited Grace Snell, and it has a special place on his calendar.
“It means an awful lot to me,” he said. “Highlight of my year.”
Students read descriptions of each branch of the military, their respective song, and veterans from those branches stood and were recognized.
Cashion read and explained the Pledge of Allegiance, and added, “Next time you say the pledge, think about those words and make sure you’re saying it from the heart.”
Bob Harris, a World War II veteran of the 78th infantry division, fought in one of the longest and bloodiest conflicts in the war in Hürtgen Forest, near the German-Belgian border. Harris also was among the soldiers in the 78th that captured the The Ludendorff Bridge at 4:30 a.m. on March 8, 1945, he said. This allowed the U.S. Army to establish a bridgehead on the eastern side of the Rhine River.
Harris said Veterans Day was a time to remember the ones who didn’t make it.
“I had a lot of good friends who were killed during the war,” he said.
Reuben Mobley, a World War II veteran who served in North Africa and Italy, said he appreciated the work that went into the program.
“Not many people recognize what you did, but these people do,” he said.
The seventh-grade social studies curriculum focuses on the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and some of World War II. But Cashion said the students were most excited to see a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Robert Spidel.
“It’s just words in a book to them, until they see the faces of these veterans and get to talk with them,” she said. “Then it becomes a reality.”