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Lasting Tribute

COAL GROVE — It’s only fitting a school named for two World War I veterans to have a ceremony involving music, poetry, videos and even a black light performance to honor those who served.

“This is one of the bigger turnouts,” Derek Parsons, teacher and history club adviser, said. “It keeps getting bigger and better every year.”

The ceremony was presented by the history club and its president, senior Danielle Mathis, who welcomed the veterans, parents and others who gathered in the high school gymnasium for the event.

Mathis also led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance before members of the marching band played the national anthem and taps.

Mathis, whose grandfather served and was injured in World War II, gave a speech in which she assessed what kind of people veterans are.

“A soldier is a special kind of person and we must honor their strength and integrity,” she said. “Could I give my life for people I don’t even know? This is a question every soldier has asked themselves.”

Senior Kala Landers, vice president of the history club, introduced the more than 20 veterans in attendance and the Dawson-Bryant Christian Youth Association performed a black light dance to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” The performers received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Students Isabella Adams and Harlea Smith recited a poem before Parson announced plans to erect a life-size bronze statue memorializing veterans at the high school.

“This statue will be a lasting tribute and honor to the people in our community for their military involvement,” he said. “It will serve as a visible reminder of veterans’ sacrifice and the debt we owe them for our freedom.”

The statue is still in the conceptual and planning phase. Sculptor Alan Cottrill, of Zanesville, has been commissioned to create the piece.

Students Jackie Smith and Alexis Bundy recited the poem “Ragged Old Flag” to the accompaniment of Caleb Moore and “Dookie” Blair on drums.

A musical ensemble comprised of teacher Tyler Waller on guitar and vocals, Parsons on guitar, student Joey Unrue on guitar and Adam Jenkins on the cajon performed several songs before students Katelin Ferguson and Tori Holmes sang Carrie Underwood’s “It’s Just a Dream.”

A video montage of Dawson-Bryant teachers telling their families’ military history and describing what Veterans Day means to them was played.

A luncheon with the veterans followed the ceremony.