For Jeremy Case, the head of the Perimeter School, some lessons can’t be taught in the classroom alone.
“We need the next generation to learn about the military and its history and the legacies and freedoms that they’ve fought to uphold,” he said. “We want to make sure our students have an understanding of the sacrifices our veterans have made for our country and our country’s freedom.”
That’s why for the 25th straight year, the Perimeter School held its “Veterans Celebration,” in which about 300 veterans from all military branches were recognized by the school’s faculty and students, as well as those from nearby Beaver Ridge Elementary and the John Creek community for their service.
The celebration culminated a series of enrichment days, in which students were taught in an age-appropriate manner about the branches of the military, their history, their efforts and what it means to serve one’s country.
“What I love most about this celebration is all of our veterans who come for the first time to experience our event,” Case said. “There have been times when a veteran has come to me and said this was the first time he’s ever been thanked by anyone for his service.”
The event, which was open to the public, began with the veterans walking through an entry way lined by first- and second-grade students waving flags and signing patriotic songs. The middle schools greeted the veterans – who were treated as VIPs – and were taken to the main sanctuary for the posting of the nation’s colors, the pledge of allegiance and the singing of the national anthem, in addition to fourth graders singing a medley of patriotic songs.
Veterans were introduced and addressed the crowd before it was turned over to the event’s guest speakers — Retired Col. Mike Higgins and his wife, Renee, who centered their joint message on “Why We Serve,” which addressed the service of both those serving in the military and the families who support them.
Higgins served first as a field artillery officer and then as a chaplain in the Army Reserve. Before retiring from the military, he worked at the Pentagon for the Army Chief of Chaplains. Higgins
, a graduate of the Army’s Command and General Staff College, currently serves as the senior pastor of South City Church in St. Louis, Mo. The Higginses, who have been serving military families for over 22 years, are co-founders of the St. Louis Pastoral Fellowship which seeks to bring racial reconciliation and healing to their community.
“Before attending Perimeter School’s ‘Veterans Celebration,’ I never really had the chance to be with a large group of veterans of all ages,” Tom Harvey, veteran of the Air Force and the National Guard, attended his first celebration several years ago, said before the event. “This provided the perfect opportunity to do so. It is always so touching to see other veterans and hear their stories rather than just know my experience. It always grabs my heart.”
Case said the “Veterans Celebration” tradition has become part of the fabric at the private school, which serves students between kindergarten and eighth grade.
“It is a privilege to host this annual celebration to honor veterans and their families,” Case said. “This event is always a hallmark day full of memorable opportunities both to express our deep appreciation and gratitude but also for the next generation to experience firsthand the stories of service, sacrifice, and citizenry from our servicemen and women.”