Langston Chapel Middle School offered a stirring tribute Friday to men and women of the armed forces.
Students and staff presented their second annual Veterans Day program to a packed house in the school’s gymnasium.
A rousing rendition of the national anthem, a missing man ceremony in honor of absent or captured troops, and the speech of a retired brigadier general highlighted the hour-long presentation.
“Everything was just great,” said Dr. Evelyn Gamble-Hilton, the principal of Langston Chapel Middle. “The students were able to give back to veterans — show that they appreciate what veterans do for us to make sure that we can get education and live freely.”
Retired Brig. Gen. Dr. Charles Webb, who served in the Georgia Army National Guard, served as keynote speaker for the event.
He took the opportunity to thank veterans of every branch, as well as men and women still serving. Webb called attention to audience members who were part of America’s armed forces, asked them to stand, and led in a round of applause.
“It is a special privilege to speak to you this afternoon, as we approach the day proclaimed to honor our nation’s veterans,” Webb told the crowd. “There are nearly 24 million veterans living among us, in every state and territory, in every walk of life. They have given, or are giving, a part of their lives so you may enjoy the blessings of liberty and your individual accomplishments.
“It is veterans who fight, win and end wars,” he continued. “It is our veterans — not ministers, priests or rabbis — that gave our country freedom of religion. We know that it is our veterans who are responsible for our free speech and free press — not the news reporters or editors, or publishers; and it is our veterans who are responsible for ensuring that the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are more than merely words.”
The speech was preceded with a posting of colors by the Statesboro High School Junior ROTC, a student-led Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem, performed by Robin Lanier — her niece and nephew attend the school.
The Langston Chapel Chorus sang a patriotic tune, while a slideshow featuring pictures of local veterans played on a screen above the stage.
Also, Chistine Stripling and Statesboro High Cadet Andrew Dollar conducted a poignant missing man ceremony that recognized prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.
Official, national recognition of Veterans Day is Sunday.
Veterans Day is traditionally celebrated on Armistice Day, commemorating the symbolic end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.