Center sponsors Veterans#039; Day program

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tiny tots to senior citizens assembled in a local gymnasium Thursday to enjoy an early celebration of the nation's armed services.

The programs of The Butler County Education and Community Center (BCEC) jointly sponsored an early Veterans' Day celebration Nov. 9. It gave some of the city's youngest citizens the chance to learn about serving their country.

170 preschoolers, many sporting Army green paper hats and red, white and blue headbands, joined 25 gifted third graders and 30 adult students and their teachers for the


On the walls of the gym, colorful patriotic banners, drawings and foot and handprints from the youngest folks served by the center were on display.

The GHS JROTC Honor Guard presented the colors, with four of the center's gifted third graders, Anne Claire McNaughton, Kaitlin Graves, Wyatt Young, and Devin Gavin, leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

&#8220How many of you have ever seen a veteran?” speaker Frank Lewis, a Vietnam veteran, asked the youngsters.

&#8220I am a veteran, one of those people willing to lay down my life for little children just like you,” Lewis said.

&#8220One day, some of you will stand here and tell others, ‘I am a veteran.' Some of you have parents, grandparents and uncles who are veterans just like me. We look like your teacher, ministers, police officer or postman. Any of those people might be the ones who fight to help keep you free.”

The Vietnam vet added, &#8220As you grow up, you will understand what it means to be a veteranŠonce I leave here, I am going to the VA Hospital in Montgomery to see our young men coming back from war. They are hurtingŠwe can help them out.”

Lewis, who is the father of one of the HeadStart teachers at the center, also said, &#8220One of the greatest things you will ever be able to do in life is help someone else.”

Several other veterans were on hand to share their stories. Former Navy pilot and Vietnam vet, Herbert Morton spoke with pride and emotion of his time serving both active duty and as a &#8220citizen soldier” in the National Guard.

Sgt. Marcus Adams, whose father and grandfather also served with the U.S. Air Force, said he hoped his two children in the stands would see &#8220the military is a good way to go.”

Sherwhonda Taylor, a center parent who is currently a surveillance and data systems technician with the U.S. Air Force, said she plans to join the National Guard once she separates from the USAF in February.

Sabrina Reynolds led the crowd in a spirited rendition of &#8220You're a Grand Old Flag,” encouraging everyone, &#8220Hold your flags up high and wave them - and if you don't have a flag, hold those hands up and wave with me!”

The veterans, center directors and teachers were all presented with framed keepsakes created by the students in honor of Veterans' Day.

&#8220This is beautiful. I am going to hand this in my bedroomŠ50 years from now, I can tell people, this was given to me by my very small friends,” Lewis said with a smile as he held up his patriotic keepsake.

Center director Amy Bryan was &#8220very pleased” with attentiveness of the audience.

&#8220It's neat to impress upon the little ones that veterans are everyday people that bravely up for our freedom and safety, and this day is set aside to honor these soldiers. Maybe they got ‘it,'” Bryan said.