Students and visitors at Morrison Elementary took part in a moving Veterans Day program on Monday. Over 40 retired and active veterans were present.
Members of VFW Post 5064 and American Legion Post 173 took part in the ceremony. The “Star Spangled Banner” was sung by the Warren County High School chorus led by instructor Kennette Dixon accompanying on piano keyboard. The chorus also featured Tyler Morton singing “Home” by Dierks Bentley.
Student Will Davis and principal Kim Cantrell led the audience in the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
Warren County High School automotive technology instructor and Chief Construction Mechanic Joseph Earl “Mac” McClung was the guest speaker for the occasion. McClung joined the Naval Reserve in 1997 and has since served two tours of duty in Iraq. He has been awarded many awards and medals during his time in service to his country.
McClung began his speech by saying the public’s perception of veterans seems to be cyclic in nature, rising in popularity following World War II and lowering following the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War.
“Today’s veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan find they are warmly received, but face many of the challenges of their forebears. Part of challenges too often includes unemployment or underemployment when the veteran’s military service is over,” said McClung. “It is tragic that the men and women who allow us to be safe in our homes are often without homes themselves when they shed their uniforms,” he said.
“Someone once asked, ‘What is a veteran?’ Ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things. Simply put, that’s who veterans are. Some have endured great hardships, separation from family and drastically altered lifestyles. Some have experienced the horrors of war. All sacrificed something so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have today,” McClung said.
Angie Cantrell, wife of veteran Dwain Cantrell, read the meaning behind the thirteen fold flag-folding ceremony and the playing of “Taps” during a veterans funeral while veterans Thomas Cantrell and Dwain Cantrell folded the flag that had been draped over a coffin. Each fold has special meaning.
Some audience members jumped when the Three-volley salute was fired outside the gymnasium.
Davis read a story of how “Taps” became the musical piece played by buglers at military funerals. According to one legend, a Union Army infantry officer first ordered "Taps" to be performed at the funeral of his son, a Confederate soldier killed during the Peninsula Campaign. The legend claims the father found the tune in the pocket of his son's clothing and had it performed to honor his memory. Audience members then heard “Taps” play over the speaker system.