Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fayette County Schools Prepare for Veterans Day Celebrations A Long Standing Tradition Continues in Brooks

Public schools throughout Fayette County will recognize and honor the community’s veterans and active duty military personnel on Veterans Day (November 11) with breakfasts, special programs and receptions.

One of the largest and longest-running Veterans Day celebrations takes place at Brooks Elementary where the school’s students honor veterans with songs, music and messages of “thanks” during a patriotic assembly followed by a parade through the town of Brooks and a picnic at the school. This annual tradition is in its eighth year.

The Veterans Day celebration has become a tradition that the Brooks community holds near and dear to its heart. Because of the current economic situation, cuts in the school’s transportation budget put the performances of the Sandy Creek High Air Force JROTC Color Guard and the Whitewater High marching band in jeopardy. The Brooks Elementary student council turned to the Brooks Town Council for help.

“One by one, out of the goodness of their souls, these individual councilmen signed over their quarterly paychecks to Brooks Elementary. It was a spiritual moment indeed,” says Pre-K teacher Dana Sams, one of the organizers of the celebration. “Next a business person offered to pay for a large banner in the town square announcing the program, a local minister offered his church’s assistance and a teacher wrote a personal check. There wasn’t a dry eye in the Town Hall. If you don’t think that Mayberry, USA exists, then you need to come to Brooks, Georgia and visit our community school. This is America at its finest.”

More than 100 local veterans and their families have received hand-written invitations from the school’s fifth graders. Special letters of thanks and well wishes have also been sent to Lt. Daniel Berschinski of Peachtree City, who is currently recuperating at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. He lost both legs and sustained other injuries after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He is a 2002 graduate of McIntosh High.

“His family has already indicated how touched they have been by the letters and cards that Brooks has already sent; and we’ve only just begun,” says Sams.

The honored veterans, along with the school’s students, parents and staff, and a total of 18 red wagon floats and banners, will parade through downtown Brooks with Mayor Bobby Butler (a Korean War veteran) leading as grand marshal. This will be Butler’s last year as grand marshal before his tenure as mayor ends in December.

Hungry parade participants will gather back at the school to enjoy an All-American picnic lunch of hot dogs and all the trimmings. Students will have an opportunity to listen to veterans tell stories from their military experiences as the celebration winds down.

“Children sense the gravity of what it means to have freedoms here in America that like-aged children in other countries do not have. They get the special privilege of shaking hands and sharing a hot dog with a real life hero or heroine,” says Sams.

If you plan to go, here is the schedule for the celebration: 8:30 a.m., reception; 9:30 a.m., program; 10:15 a.m., parade; 11:11 a.m., moment of silence followed by the All-American picnic lunch.

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