As you walk through Sweetheart Circle Friday, you will notice a flood of red, white and blue lining the walkway through the Circle. There will be 491 flags, each representing a veteran and military student at Georgia Southern, and highlight the second annual Veterans Day ceremony at the university.
The Georgia Southern University Military and Veteran Student Center will host the ceremony on Friday beginning at 9 a.m. on Sweetheart Circle. Guests are encouraged to arrive early for seating. If inclement weather should occur, the ceremony will take place in the Williams Center Multipurpose Room.
"The ceremony is an annual ceremony meant to honor not only our veteran students, but also the faculty and staff who have served at Georgia Southern," said Director of Military Affairs Justin Williams. "It is our responsibility to not only remember the sacrifices of our veterans, but also to respect the freedoms that their sacrifices guaranteed."
Master of Ceremonies, ROTC Cadet and military student advocate Woo Jung, will begin the celebration. The Georgia Southern Sym-phonic Wind Ensemble will perform followed by speakers Maj. Jeremy Horstman and Staff Sgt. (Ret.) John Kitchens.
Horstman, program director for the Veteran's Business Outreach Center, is a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard and has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was named 2017 Veteran Small Business Champion by the U.S. Small Business Administration's Georgia District Office and continues to help the Outreach Center grow at the university. Horstman recently was appointed deputy inspector general for the Georgia National Guard and currently serves as the chief of inspections at the Georgia Joint Force Headquarters.
Kitchens, a Purple Heart recipient, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed four times throughout his military career, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Statesboro native is a graduate of the Georgia Southern College of Business and a soon-to-be Double Eagle this December. Kitchens currently works as a graduate assistant in the Office of Career Services.
Immediately following the ceremony, 13 members of the Student Veterans Association will march 36 miles on foot to the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Glennville and meet up with the Glennville Boy Scouts to place flags on the graves of fallen soldiers. The march, known as the "Ruck to Remember," was developed by Erik Burkett, an Army veteran and the vice president of the Student Veterans Association on campus.
Veterans Day programs
Portal Elementary School, 9:30 a.m. - All veterans and the public are invited to a program honoring veterans.
Langston Chapel Middle School, 2 p.m. - Veteran's Day Program, "To Care for Him Who Shall Have Borne the Battle." The program will pay tribute to all veterans and local military heroes by highlighting sacrifices made while serving our country. Captain Brantley Lockhart of the Georgia Army National Guard will serve as master of ceremony, and the special guest speakers are Captain Hugh Henry of the Georgia Army National Guard and Commander Emil N. Kemp and Past Commander Dr. Enos V. Garvin.
This student-led program will feature the LCMS Chorus along with the Statesboro High School Air Force JROTC Color Guard and Exhibition Team. A Missing Man Ceremony, led by JROTC will be conducted for our missing in action and prisoners of war.
Georgia Southern, 9 a.m. - The Georgia Southern University Military and Veteran Student Center will host the second annual Veterans Day ceremony on Friday at 9 a.m. on Sweetheart Circle.
Mattie Lively Elementary School, 9 a.m. - Students will participate in a school-wide assembly to honor America's veterans. Children will learn about the sacrifices of those who serve in our country's military and honor guests and faculty who are veterans. The Statesboro High School JROTC Color Guard will assist with the assembly.
Mill Creek Elementary School, noon - All veterans are invited to a special luncheon in the cafeteria at noon, prior to the parade. Please RSVP for the lunch by calling (912) 212-8780. The parade will begin at 1 p.m. in front of the school. Special reserved seating available for veterans.
Annual Veterans Day Observance, 10:30 a.m., Averitt Center - For Veterans Day 2017, nationally syndicated radio host and song historian Michael Lasser, singer Cindy Miller and pianist and singer Alan Jones will bring "The Songs of World War I" to the Emma Kelly Theater.