Brownstown students learn about respecting, honoring veterans

BROWNSTOWN — Throughout the day Friday, the focus at Brownstown Elementary School was on Veterans Day.

The show of honor and respect started with a veteran staff member and a Seymour Young Marines member, fifth-grader Blayklee Adams, leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

Shortly after, local veteran Ronnie Hedrick visited Beth Shelton’s third grade class to talk about his military service. He was in Shelton’s class in fourth grade, and now, his daughter, Raelynn, is a third-grader in Shelton’s class.

At 11 a.m., the four fifth grade classes were escorted by their teachers on a walk to the Jackson County Courthouse for the annual Veterans Day program. Members of the community and local veterans were there, too.

A veterans hero wall display also was available to view in the school cafeteria, as students had an opportunity to contribute photos of special veterans in their lives and share artwork. More was on display near the main entrance to the school.

Adams, who has been in the Seymour Young Marines for a year and wore his uniform Friday, said he was honored to help lead the pledge at the school and attend the Veterans Day program.

“I think it’s important because if your family and friends were in (the military), you should really look up to them and try and be like them,” he said, noting his uncle and great-grandfather served. “It means a lot to me because they worked very hard and they never gave up in it.”

During the program, fifth-graders recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” while holding American flags and also heard from guest speaker Mitchell McIntyre, lead minister at Brownstown Christian Church.

After he had attendees acknowledge the veterans present, McIntyre asked who has someone in their family who served in the military. A majority of their hands went up. He then shared his grandfather and uncle both were in World War II.

“We are all thankful for those who are in our family and our friend group that have served in the military,” he said.

All veterans sacrificed a lot to keep the country free and protect Americans, including their lives and time away from family, McIntyre said.

He shared two words to take away from Friday’s program: Respect and honor.

“We can acknowledge the fact that they were brave and they showed bravery and that they gave a great sacrifice for us of their time, of their abilities, of just being away from their family,” he said.

“They were brave to stand for protection of their country but also for each of us as individuals,” he said. “They made sacrifices of which we will never know about in a lot of cases, so what we can do is acknowledge the fact that they were brave and they made sacrifices for our benefit. That’s why we want to show respect and honor.”

One way to do that is to thank a veteran for his or her service.

“Our veterans who have served and continue to serve have made us proud,” McIntyre said. “We should be proud of them, and we should look to their example of service that they gave so their country could be better. “

At the end of the program, the fifth-graders gave handmade cards and artwork and American flags to the veterans present.

Among the recipients was Steve Glasgow of Brownstown, a Vietnam veteran. He said he loved the way McIntyre got the kids so involved in the program, and he appreciated the kind gestures by the students.

“I’ve been coming here for five or six years, and I’ve got a whole bunch of these, and I’ll put these away and keep them and treasure them,” he said, smiling. “It means that the kids are honoring us. This is honoring us.”