By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON —
Students from the Opdyke and Belle Rive Grade School attendance centers combined efforts to honor veterans on Friday.
At the end of the special event, the entire student body shook the hands of about a dozen veterans, the guests of honor.
Superintendent Debbie Blakey was the master of ceremonies at the event. She said the students and staff were proud to be able to honor the veterans in the area who served the United States.
Kindergartners led the Pledge of Allegiance, while the fourth grade led the students and attendees in singing the Star Spangled Banner.
Three young men from the Jefferson County Young Marines were on hand for a flag-folding presentation, along with Young Marines staff James Butler and Tammy Eichenseer.
Wayne City resident Devin Tucker narrated while James A. Eichenseer of Kell and Jeff Smith of Bluford demonstrated the proper way to fold the American flag.
Tucker said the custom is reserved for the American flag alone — he said the red and white stripes are folded into the blue field of stars to represent the rays of the sun fading into the night sky.
“When the flag is folded, only the blue stars should be visible,” he said.
Blakey honored not only the veterans in attendance, but some special veterans who were not able to attend the event, including Maelyn Williamson’s brother, Jordan Williamson, who is currently attending boot camp, and Brian Houser, father of student Maddie Houser.
Eighth graders shook hands and placed symbolic medals around the necks of each veteran who was able to attend.
Ross Horton, one of the guests of honor, spoke about the origins of Veterans Day.
He said the day began as Armistice Day, to honor World War I veterans, and became a national holiday in 1938. After the wars of World War II and Korea, however, it was changed to Veterans Day to honor all veterans, he said.
He said it is an important day to him.
“I’ve had a whole family of servicepeople,” he said. “My cousins served, my dad, and now my son is serving.”
He added that it’s important for people to show respect when the national anthem is playing or veterans are being honored.
The newly-formed Opdyke-Belle Rive Chorus performed the Lee Greenwood standard, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” to finish off the event.