“The students at [Kingston Elementary School] wanted to honor and thank veterans who have served our country and who currently serve our country, that was really where my idea started from,” KES music teacher Sonny Hattaway said of the school’s memorial music program. “Last year was our first year doing it, and [the students] just wanted to sing as an expression of thanks to the veterans.”
The program, featuring all 300 second through fifth graders, included staples such as the national anthem as well as a recorded presentation of the hymns, or service songs, for each branch of the military, during which the nearly 40 veterans in attendance were asked to stand.
“We honor [our fallen veterans] and we think about them at the same time we are thanking [veterans in attendance] today for your service,” Hattaway said.
At Cartersville Elementary School, students were given the opportunity to meet and speak with veterans, including Sonar Technician 2nd Class Michael Fanning of the U.S. Navy. Originally of the Atlanta area, Fanning now lives in Cartersville and currently is serving at the Navy Recruiting station on Joe Frank Harris Parkway.
Surrounded by a group of children, Fanning said he appreciates the enthusiasm given during his visit.
“It revives me, basically, because I don’t have any children, so it’s been a been a while since I’ve been around so many children,” Fanning said, smiling. “I’m having fun already and I’ve only been here 10 minutes so far.”
Veterans in attendance also were served lunch.
“Students were just excited to see the veterans today, they know Sunday is Veterans Day, and they have a much better understanding of why we have that holiday,” Principal Ken MacKenzie said. “We’ve talked about [Veterans Day], we’ve attempted to wear red, white and blue, we sought out people from the community and from the school system, and it was just an opportunity to recognize those who have served and who continue to serve.”