Veteran’s Day arrives Monday, Nov. 11. The federal holiday will honor and celebrate those who served in the armed forces.
Gulf County Schools, however, are among the few districts in the state that celebrate the holiday by keeping schools open to celebrating veterans.
At Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School, its 20th annual program will kick off 9 a.m. ET Monday. The NJROTC will welcome veterans as they enter the building and patriotic artwork prepared by students in grades kindergarten through 12.
During the program, students who participate in the 21st Century after school enrichment program will perform a tribute that includes the songs, “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Yankee Doodle,” and “God Bless America.”
The after school program is made up of students in grades kindergarten through third.
The artwork displayed during the event comes from art classes taught by Julie Hodges. These works, crafted in mediums ranging from water colors to colored pencil, were created under the theme “Tour of America” and had to feature a place and incorporate an American flag.
Hodges used the opportunity to expand the thinking of her students when choosing a location to draw or paint.
“America’s not just about landmarks,” said Hodges. “We’re also representing small towns and everyday America life.”
Several hundred pieces of art will line the hallways and serve as a salute to the veterans making their way to the gymnasium.
While creating the artwork, it allowed elementary students to understand the significance of the stars and stripes on the American flag and the humble beginnings of our nation.
“It makes the students feel important,” said Hodges. “They’re contributing something to honoring the veterans.”
The program will cover the Revolutionary War as well as recognize the veterans of the Vietnam War, who were never officially welcomed home.
A reception will immediately follow the program. Thank you letters written by elementary school students and the patriotic artwork will later be sent to soldiers abroad.
“We want to show the kids that the United States started with a major war that established a democratic country,” said event organizer, Linda Wood. “Now, we have soldiers policing countries all over the world.
“We want kids to see the magnitude of what we require these men to do.”
At last year’s event Kesley Colbert honored WWII veteran Howard Rogers, whose unit saved a group of POWs on the Island of Biak. Among the soldiers rescued was Colbert’s father.
At Wewahitchka Elementary School, the 30th annual Veteran’s Day Celebration will take place inside the cafeteria.
Third graders will pay tribute to past and present veterans with a program of poem readings and patriotic songs that include service hymns.
This will mark the seventh year that the Veteran’s Day program was organized by third-grade teacher John Huft,
Huft said that in a time of shrinking budgets, the local veterans have been gracious in helping the school where they can. The annual program is his way of giving back to the men who not only served their countries, but serve their communities as well.
“I want this to be something that students can look back on and have positive memories,” said Huft. “It’s something that they’ve given to the veterans and brightened their day.”
The program will begin at 8:30 a.m. CT. A reception will immediately follow.
Both events are free and open to veterans, their families and the public.