Vancleave High School has been honoring veterans in a special annual ceremony longer than some of their students have been alive.
A sea of red, white, and blue, and a patriotic salute as veterans took a front row seat at the 17th annual Veterans Day program at Vancleave High School, honoring all who have done their time, answering the call of duty.
They also paused to remember the 83,000 servicemen and women who have yet to return home. Vancleave High student Luke Jones said, “I love the country. It just saddens my heart when people disrespect the country. The men and women that fight for the country, not just those that go overseas, but those that are in the community.”
Vancleave High graduate Ethan Smith once sat in these stands. On this day, he returned as staff sergeant with the Mississippi National Guard and speaker at the program. “Looking back now, from sitting out here to the stands and then coming out and being able to come back to the high school and give back to the community and be able to speak in front of it is actually pretty surreal.”
Music pierced to the hearts and souls of some, spreading healing for wounds that aren’t always easy to see. U.S Navy veteran Steven Walmsley said, “This brings back memories from years ago. A lot of us were in service during the Vietnam War. It was awful hard when we came back because we didn’t get the respect. We were just doing what our country asked us to do. It means a lot for us today to see the respect we get from our young kids.”
Veteran Ellis Olsen said, “And I’ll tell all these boys, one asked me all about it, he’s going to join the Marine Corps. I said you go right ahead. I was in there. I’ve been out 61 years. I’d go back right now if I had to because I could still do it, and I’m proud of it, too.”