Students of First Presbyterian Christian Academy gave an immediate response to a Veterans Day challenge issued last week by District 1 Congressional Rep. Jack Kingston.
During the school’s Thursday ceremony, “Honoring Heroes Among Us: Past, Present and Future,” Kingston asked the audience to take time to listen to soldiers and veterans and learn their stories.
“If this story has captured your imagination or your interest, what’s your story? I’m going to ask you, on this Veterans Day, to honor our veterans by sitting down with a soldier — maybe active-duty, maybe a veteran whose days are behind him or her — and say, ‘Tell me what you did; tell me what it was like,’” Kingston said after telling the story of the late Savannah veteran and Bataan Death March survivor Charles Davis.
But the students — about one-third of whom are military-connected — already had done so. They presented Kingston and visiting dignitaries with a book containing student poems, artwork and essays dedicated to the soldiers in their lives.
During the presentation, student Loren Townsend offered a history of the holiday.
“Veterans Day, the holiday celebrating all military men and women, is one of the least-understood of all national holidays,” Townsend said. “It’s often confused with Flag Day or Memorial Day, but the history of Veterans Day focuses on honoring living veterans rather than those who have fallen.”
Townsend — whose father, Lt. Col. Miles E. Townsend, is stationed at Fort Stewart — thanked veterans for their service to the country, and the audience applauded as present veterans stood for recognition.
Junior Phillip Swindell performed an acoustic version of Toby Keith’s “American Soldier,” and the Highlander band performed “Marches of the Armed Forces.”
The presentation also included a musical performance, speeches and prayers from several other students.
Outside of the school, students and guests watched as three members of the Fort Stewart MEDDAC color guard hoisted a flag that flew over Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Head of School Sammi Hester thanked participants and guests and added that one-third of the students are dependents of active-duty soldiers, several of whom are deployed.
“We ask that you keep our family and our veterans in your prayers,” Hester said.