Nevils Elementary School Principal Julie Blackmar and the school's faculty, staff and students celebrated “Patriots Day” Friday. Joined by more than 100 parents, grandparents and other family and friends, the entire Nevils community seemed to have congregated in the Nevils Elementary School gymnasium.
After the Junior ROCT Honor Color Guard, led by Cadet Command Sergeant Major Tyler Yarbrough and JROCT Adviser First Sergeant Randall Walker, brought the American flag to the front, those in attendance said the Pledge of Allegiance.
Next on the agenda was the singing of the National Anthem by Nevils faculty member Sunny Denmark, and then the singing of a number of patriotic songs by students in various grade levels which included God Bless the USA.
Blackmar called on members of the audience to describe what being a patriot meant to them. She said personally it meant someone who loved and supported all that their country is.
Commenting on the attacks which took place nine years ago on September 11, she said Americans have promised that we will never forget those who gave their lives in those attacks so that others might not be forced to give theirs.
Introducing the guest speaker, Nevils paraprofessional Mary Joseph, Blackmar said students had someone right in the midst of their community who had made the commitment to fight to ensure our freedoms.
Taking the podium, Joseph asked the students in the audience what being a patriot meant to them. She was immediately answered by a fifth-grade Nevils student, Ethan, who responded that being a patriot meant that you were someone who was willing to fight for their country.
Joseph agreed. She herself served four years in the Army as a Medical Assistant (in Army lingo, she said, she was a 91-Whiskey.) Her husband, whom she met while she was stationed in Germany, is serving at this moment in Iraq.
Joseph described herself as being raised in the Nevils area, back when students actually attended grades kindergarten through seventh grade at the old school. She said she was a member of the JROTC at Southeast Bulloch High School and served as their first female commander.
After living in Texas for a while to be near her husband, she returned to the Nevils area and got a job at the school as a paraprofessional when he went overseas. Joseph said “Nevils Expects Success” and warned the students about the importance of earning a high school diploma.
In the audience were members of the local chapter of the “In Country Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club,” whose chapter president, Darrell Austin, has relatives attending the school. The group has 17 members, most of whom were in attendance.
Another group of local heroes, several firefighters and policemen, were also in attendance. They announced there will be a 9/11 memorial at 9:30 this morning at the Bulloch Memorial Gardens in Statesboro, with the ringing of the bell to honor those fallen, and a 21-gun salute to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.