Southside salutes Veterans
Posted On:
Sunday, November 06, 2016
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One by one Southside Middle School students walked to the center of the school's gymnasium.

 

One by one they placed an empty table in the center of the floor, laid a white cloth on top, rested a chair against it and topped it with a black napkin, salt, a slice of lemon, an empty glass and a single rose. Assembled the items created the Missing Man Table as one part of the students' Veterans Day program

Each year students at Southside recognize area veterans who have fought and served to protect the nation's freedoms. Some giving the ultimate sacrifice or are still missing in action as represented by the table arrangement.

A moment of silence followed.

Veterans still living were celebrated.

Nearly 100 veterans were given VIP treatment as part of Southside Middle School's annual Salute to Veterans program on Wednesday in Tallassee as veterans were escorted to their seats to the songs of the Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. A special recognition was given to World War II veterans Robert Scroggins and Orville Griffith who were present.

It was an hour-and-half-long production that the entire student body helped organize and participated in from start to finish.

Having youth fully invested in honoring veterans and respecting what they fought for is one of the many reasons why such a program is important said program and band director Michael Bird. Especially in today's digital age of social media where those like football star Colin Kaepernick thrive.

Kaepernick was recently ousted on social media for his stand, or rather knee, during the National Anthem in protest of the recent police shootings of black men.

"We live in a time when we take a lot of this for granted," Bird said. "Most people don't have to go serve in the military. It's by choice.

"No matter what side of the issue you're on, all these students know is what is shown to them on social media. It's up to us at assemblies like this to educate them on how to stand during the National Anthem and how to fold the flag."

Southside Middle School celebrates veterans.Buy Photo

Southside Middle School celebrates veterans. (Photo: Rebecca Burylo/ Advertiser)

Guest speaker and '89 graduate of Southside and '93 graduate of Auburn University, Marine Corps retired Col. Joel Burdette addressed that issue of showing respect to such symbols of freedom veterans have fought to uphold.

Southside Middle School celebrates veterans.Buy Photo

Southside Middle School celebrates veterans. (Photo: Rebecca Burylo/ Advertiser)

He had student volunteers show how they should stand during the playing of the National Anthem, at attention, with their hand over their heart rather than being distracted by their phone, looking way or kneeling.

"Patriotism is the love a person's feels for his or her country. It's about our symbols of freedom. It's about what we hold dear," Burdette said. "It's what these veterans here fought for."

"You show your appreciation for us veterans best when you take seriously your duty to keep sacred things sacred."

Those symbols being the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem and the correct way to fold the American flag just to name a few.

Southside Middle School celebrates veterans.Buy Photo

Southside Middle School celebrates veterans. (Photo: Rebecca Burylo/ Advertiser)

Eighth grader, Tristin Carter played "Taps" on the trumpet as her first time performing in the program. She took her part very seriously knowing her older sister is currently serving in the Air Force and is stationed in England. Honoring her sister and other veterans is important to her.

"Our veterans deserve our respect," 13-year-old Carter said. "I think if anyone is going to disrespect the flag then they just need to calm it down. If they're going to live in this country then they need to be able to respect our flag and our mottos."

Throughout the event the 5th Grade Chorus and 7th & 8th Grade Bands performed "My Country Tis of Thee," You're a Grand Old Flag and "American the Beautiful."

Other students from Southside presented the American and Alabama State flag, performed a Wreath Laying ceremony and read winning essays on the topic of "The America I Believe In."

Southside Middle School celebrates veterans.Southside Middle salutes veterans

 

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