November 2 marked the 16th anniversary of the Swiss Memorial Elementary School Veterans Appreciation Program. First grade teacher, Kimberly McBee, started the program in 2002, in an effort to teach the student body to be thankful to all veterans who served honorably in the military, in wartime or peace. The program committee members helping McBee are Renee Grooms, Patsy Keener, Clayta Meeks, Clair Anderson, Charline Birdwell, Sandra Kilgore, Tiffany Yates, Felicia Birdwell, and Kathy Prater.
During the program, students were taught that throughout this Nation’s history, America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coastguard members have bravely answered the call to defend freedom, to aid allies, and to turn back aggressors.
Patriotic student artwork, essays, and poems covered the walls throughout the hallways of the school. A large collection of Grundy County veterans’ photos and military information was on display. Grundy County High School student Sarah Kilgore, a member of the National Honor Society, logged evening society service hours decorating for the program. The eighth grade class and their teacher Angela Fults created stunning patriotic silhouette artwork.
SMES was honored to have Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum as part of the program. Sheriff Shrum told the crowd that he felt humbled to be in the presence of so many fine veterans. He urged the SMES student body to always take pride in being an American, have respect for the flag, and be thankful for the freedoms that we all enjoy.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Lynlee Kilgore, of Katie Northcutt’s Pre-K Class. Eighth grader Erik Andrews sang the National Anthem acapella. Under the guidance of Angela Fults, the eighth grade class performed theatrically and sang God Bless the USA. And, third grader Grant Nunley led the veterans in Grace.
Parker Lowndes representing The Sam (Bud) H. Werner Military Museum was the guest speaker.
Veterans in attendance were Gloria Clouse, Jim Reust, Ralph King, Ernest McIntosh, Tony Joe King, Sr., James H. McBee, Tom Meeks, Ron Finch, Barry Cisco, Ralph T. Creighton, Charles E. Sanders, Ralph Burnett, Billy Caldwell, Chris Grooms, and David Lowrie.
Vice-Commander Ralph King, Adjutant Gloria Clouse, and Jim Reust, all representing The Veterans Honor Guard of Cookeville, performed during the last portion of the appreciation program. They played “Taps” and demonstrated flag folding. Dale Layne, owner of Layne’s Funeral Homes, donated the entombment flag.
Following the program, veterans were treated to a catered meal.