HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of veterans were invited to the West Harrison High School JROTC's fifth annual Veterans Day Program on Friday.
JROTC members took turns explaining the history of each branch of the military as hundreds of students watched and listened.
Students from the band played TAPS, while the audience observed a special moment of silence for fallen military members. Despite an effort to increase attendance by having the ceremony before Veteran's Day, many noticed the empty chairs.
"I'd like to see more veterans at this particular program. I'm hoping the publicity can get out to the community a little better in the future," said Charles Purchner, U.S. Air Force .
Nevertheless, the ceremony served its intended purpose.
"I think it's important that we share with the kids the importance of the sacrifice the veterans have made for this country so that they understand the past," said Chief Samuel Smith, who is in charge of the JROTC members. "[It] will also hopefully inspire some to go on and serve their country."
Petty Officer Douglas Slaughter of U.S. Navy attended the event for the third year in a row.
"It's very fitting. I like to see that we're taking the time to remember our veterans," said Slaughter. "Not just those who are active, but those who went before us and paved the way to allow us to have ceremonies like this and the freedom to express that."
For some students, the ceremony was just as important to them as it was to the veterans. Maraya Jemott opened the program by singing the national anthem. She says although she was nervous, she was happy to be part of the event.
"It means a lot to me. I come from a long line of veterans. My dad was in the military, my sisters, my grandfather, and it means a lot to me and I think its something that can help change the community," Jemott said.