VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds filled the gymnasium at Vancleave High School on Monday for a salute to veterans. The annual program featured patriotic music, student-led skits and dance and a special thanks to the "greatest generation."
This is the 13th year for the Vancleave High veteran's tribute: A heartfelt salute to those who defend our freedom.
"We so strongly believe in this core freedom, that we send our sons and daughters to foreign lands to spread, protect and fight for freedom," said Principal Anthony Gruich.
"A table reserved for our missing service men and women," the narrator read.
A presentation by the ROTC called attention to POWs and MIAs.
"There is salt on each plate. Symbolic of the family's tears as they wait. Remember," Amber Stringer spoke to the crowd, as ROTC members stood solemnly around the table.
The guest speaker, Army Col. Mark Prine, spoke of sacrifice and service. And a personal note.
"We serve because of people who make sacrifices. This year I'm remembering two friends of mine who sacrificed their lives in Iraq in 2004. And they were able to serve because their families sacrificed," said Col. Prine.
Students honored veterans with a patriotic poster contest, a skit about military families and interpretive dance. They also paid special tribute to the so-called "greatest generation." At 96, Clifton Smith was recognized as the oldest veteran in attendance.
Dwindling in number, these World War II vets are humbled by the attention.
"And I want you to know that we really appreciate what this school and the student body and Miss Brown does for us. Thank you," said veteran, Ivan McAllister.
The Junior Civitan Club organized and hosted the annual veterans ceremony in Vancleave.