Each called name signified a sacrifice made.
As Sterling Elementary School Principal Wanda Shue went down the list of names, each veteran in attendance at the school’s Veterans Day ceremony, hosted Tuesday, stood for a moment of recognition.
Wednesday is Veterans Day.
Among those veterans Shue named was Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey, who later gave the keynote address. Harvey retired after 29 years of service in the U.S. Air Force at its highest enlisted rank.
Freedoms Americans enjoy today would not exist without the sacrifice of veterans, Harvey said.
“When each one of us decided to defend our country, we didn’t look to see who else did it,” he said. “We did it because we knew what it stood for and what it meant to us. We cherished those oaths that we took and we continue to cherish those oaths.”
Veterans stood the watch no matter what political party was in charge and during many holidays when they would have loved to be home with family, he said. Some never made it back.
“Veterans Day is also about courage,” Harvey said. “It’s easy to sit down in times of comfort, but it’s hard sometimes to stand in times of conflict. But we do that. Veterans do that. They all have my deepest respect for standing.”
Shue offered a quick history lesson on Veterans Day before a student parade closed the event. Every class at Sterling walked through the audience, waving flags and smiling up at veterans beneath their masks as they passed by. Students also sang and danced throughout the parade.
Public gatherings and parades have been held on Nov. 11 since 1919 to honor the men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, Shue said.
“Today we want to celebrate our living veterans and remember those who have died,” she said.
The Veterans Council of the Golden Isles will offer the community an opportunity to honor those who served when it holds its annual Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Neptune Park on St. Simons Island.
“When you say ‘thank you for your service,’ it does us well,” Harvey said. “It makes us beam with pride.”