By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – With Veterans Day falling on Saturday this year, many area businesses and school districts expressed their appreciation to those who served in the United States Armed Forces on Friday, Nov. 10.
One such organization was Grapeland ISD. The district invited area veterans to a reception beginning at 9 a.m. and several students expressed their gratitude to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in attendance.
“I think I speak for our entire student body when I say thank you so much for your service. We are honored to have you here,” a GHS senior said.
“I just want to say thank you for all your courage and bravery to go out there and fight for us,” a sixth grade junior high student commented.
As the reception continued, several of the veterans returned the favor and expressed their thanks to the district and students for hosting the reception.
Following the reception, the veterans were led over to the Lorena Shoultz Auditorium for an assembly in their honor.
The veterans were greeted by GISD Superintendent Don Jackson and the district’s student ambassadors as they made their way to their seats.
Once the welcome concluded, pledges to the American and Texas flags were given followed by the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” by the Grapeland Sandie Band.
GHS freshman Cierra Simon followed the band and read a poem entitled “The Noble and the Brave,” by Joanna Fuchs.
The poem is a moving tribute to veterans of the armed forces and the last two stanzas of the poem read, “We salute every one of them, the noble and the brave, the ones still with us here today and those who rest in a grave.”
“So here’s to our country’s heroes; they’re a cut above the rest; let’s give the honor that is due to our country’s very best.”
At the conclusion of the poem, the fifth grade students of Grapeland Elementary joined together in song to sing “Livin’ in the Homeland,” a musical composition by Randy Vader.
The music continued after the song ended as the Sandie Band cranked up the marches of the armed forces.
The band was followed by the reading of a second poem. This sonnet was entitled “Just Another Veteran’s Day.” The poem was written by Franklin Price and read by Taylor Pennington.
The end of the poem states, “Some did enlist. Some draft did call. Once in the same, yes, one and all. No matter color, race or creed, all were there to fill a need. Some to combat would report and would give their all to hold the fort. Suffer wounds of body, mind will never leave that life behind. I wrote this poem to commemorate the Veterans that we celebrate. And at its end I have to say, for us, it’s never: “Just another Veterans Day.”
The music returned after the poem’s conclusion as the band cranked up “God Bless the U.S.A.” The entire elementary joined in the singing and brought several tears to the eyes of the veterans in attendance.
As the ceremony neared the end, GHS sophomore Kaden Dupree recited a poem by Lt. Col. John McCrae, entitled “In Flanders Fields.”
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row, that mark our place: and in the sky, the larks still bravely singing fly scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the dead: short days ago, we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and were loved: and now we lie in Flanders fields! Take up our quarrel with the foe. To you, from failing hands, we throw the torch: be yours to hold it high if ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.”
Following the playing of “Taps,” GISD teacher D’Linda Mahaffey closed out the program as she said, “Again veterans, we cannot thank you enough for your service and for your attendance today.”
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.