Despite all the negative news coming out of Iraq, support for U.S. Troops is as strong as ever. That was evident at a support rally held at Lucedale Elementary on Monday morning. More than 300 students participated in the event designed to honor both those currently serving in Iraq, and American veterans who served in previous conflicts.
"If we don't honor them, they won't probably think it was special to be in the war," said third grader Jhakorreghan Johnson.
Many of the students realize the sacrifices enlisted men and women have made defending freedom.
"They have fought for us in war and died," says Bryanne Cheatham.
"They can fight real hard for our country so we can be free," said Miranda Mardis, a student whose father has been put on notice for deployment.
Her father Sergeant First Class Kevin Mardis is a member of the Mississippi National Guard. He says the students presentation means a lot to the soldiers both at home and abroad.
"We do worry when we get the call," says Mardis. "We worry about our families and our jobs, but when you see the community come and rally and support you it does something down deep."
Veteran William Earl Seals served in the Navy during Vietnam when support for the military wasn't so strong.
"When you get support from home it always helps," says Seals. "Lack of support hurts morale. That's what hurt Vietnam a lot. We didn't get the support we needed."
By having that support, Sergeant Mardis says it gives troops the incentive they need to do their jobs.
"We see the support of the children, the teachers and all of the veterans who showed up today and it tells me there's still patriotism in this country," said Mardis. "People are still proud to be an American."
As part of the ceremony, students with family members in the military pinned ribbons on a red, white and blue wreath. Students say this will allow them to preserve and honor the memory and service of their loved ones.