More than 100 veterans and active-duty military personnel were honored by Long County High School on Tuesday during the annual Veteran’s Day Ceremony.
Activities began with student Paul Williams playing reveille. After the formalities, former and active-duty military personnel marched into the gymnasium as students and teachers cheered.
After teacher and veteran Donald Pelton welcomed everyone, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by several students from the Pre-K class. Teacher and veteran Jason McElveen then offered the crowd a veteran’s perspective and spoke of their duty, honor and selfless service to the United States.
“They have defended America during the best and worst of times,” McElveen said.
Students Morgan Bennett, Cody Collier, Carmela Ciccone and Hannah Golden each honored a local veteran who is special to them.
Bennett recognized local electrician Kent Hall, saying that during Vietnam he received the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Collier recognized 28-year Army retiree John Barnett, who fought in Vietnam and Desert Storm.
Ciccone recognized her father Nino who also fought in Vietnam. She said her father stated that his five years in the military were the best years of his life and that he believed military men and women need to serve because the want to be in the service, not simply to have jobs.
Golden recognized Sam Rodriguez, a Vietnam veteran who was a medic. After honoring the four veterans, each student gave them a gift basket and thanked them for their service.
After the presentations, active-duty Navy Petty Officer Shaun Kwasniewski pointed to a small table in the middle of the gym and said that it was a POW/MIA place setting. On the table was a yellow ribbon, slice of lemon, candle, glass, chair, tablecloth and one red rose. Each piece had a specific meaning surrounding the difficulties of being a prisoner of war or a soldier missing in action. He then lit the candle in remembrance of each one.
“Do not let them be forgotten, because surely, they have not forgotten us,” Kwasniewski said.
A moment of silence was led by Aisha, followed by Williams playing taps to conclude the service.