History teacher Brandon Phillips teaches seventh- and eighth-grade history at Lupton Jr. High and is in his 10th year teaching in the Walker County School System. He rallied his junior high troops Friday afternoon as they marched into the Blue Devils’ gymnasium to pay tribute to the community’s veterans.
Phillips opened the ceremony saying, “We can best pay tribute to these veterans by recognizing what they achieved and joining and supporting them to keep America strong and free. We can never fully repay our debt or gratitude to the more than 650,000 American service members who have died in battle, or the 1.4 million who have been wounded,” Phillips said. “However, we can recognize and thank the 25 million veterans that are still alive today. ... Today we celebrate America’s veterans for keeping this nation the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
The second and third graders were well behaved as they sat in the bleachers and on the floor while singing patriotic songs, such as “America the Beautiful,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “This Land is Your Land” and “Yankee Doodle.”
Five eighth-grade boys carried the five flags across the gym that represented the branches of the armed services — the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Different eighth graders walked up to the microphone and spoke about the things that represent our county, such as the Statue of Liberty and the symbolic meanings of the bald eagle and Liberty Bell.
Students also read the United States Constitution and the Preamble.
Ending the Veterans Day tribute was J.J. Hadder singing a very powerful rendition of “God Bless the USA” and principal Corey Shubert with closing remarks.
After the program two of Phillips’ students gave their opinion of why Veterans Day is so important to them.
“I think that it’s important because we need to support the people who have served our country, and we need to thank them for giving us our freedom,” said 13-year-old Johnathan Kraus, who also said his grandfather served during the Vietnam War.
Thirteen-year-old Maranda Wilson, whose grandfather served in the Air Force, said it’s important to celebrate Veterans Day “because the people who served our country are very important as to why we have freedom, and I think that deserves to be celebrated.”
Approximately 15 veterans attended the ceremony at Lupton on Friday and were recognized for their years of service.
“We want to recognize our veterans. We want to recognize their service to our country, and what they’ve done for us to give us all the freedoms that we have and to protect those freedoms and to protect us,” Phillips said, whose uncle retired from the Navy Reserves after about 25 years. “Without them, we would not have the freedoms that we have today. If they’re not protecting us, it opens our country up to invasion; it opens it up to terrorist acts and things that can happen.
“They’re protecting us and protecting the freedoms that our forefathers gave to us when they wrote the Bill of Rights. They created this country with the Constitution,” Phillips continued. “They’re protecting all of that for us, and without them we don’t have any of that.”