Picayune High has 10th annual veterans reception

Picayune High has 10th annual veterans reception

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - Staff Sgt. Jerry Burge Junior was killed in Iraq in 2007.

The reaction by students from Picayune Memorial High School students during his funeral procession launched a program 10 years ago that made his sacrifice count for something special.

The school now has the Jerry "C" Burge Armed Forces Reception is in his honor.

"Every school should do it," said his aunt, Bobbie Kennedy. "Actually, because they don't know the price. This generation doesn't know the price."

The event has involved nearly every student at the high school.

Teacher Allison Wheat took her history students to Burge's funeral procession in downtown Picayune.

"When the procession passed by, we saw all those children out there on either the side of the road just lined up," Kennedy said. "It just made us all know it was worth the loss."

A group of VFW members were there.

"All of a sudden, one of the young ladies in my class walked over and took one of those gentlemen by the hand and said thank you," Wheat said.

The other students followed suit, thanking all the veterans for their service.

"When it got to the end, the gentlemen they had originally shook his hand, he was crying," she said. "His wife asked him, 'Are you OK?' And he said, 'I'm better than I've been in a long time.'"

This year's reception brought in 83 veterans plus a school of students who were eager to learn from them.

Highly decorated World War II veteran and centenarian Jim Livaudias hasn't missed an event.

"I think it's great," he said. "I appreciate it. And I like to talk to them."

Another World War II veteran, Gladys Hughes, had plenty to share.

"I want them to know, first of all, how much that the veterans have done to help them with their lives today," she said. "Because it if hadn't been for them serving their country, things would have been severely worse than they are now."

Their service and their time has left an impression.

"They served their country and they spent so much time away from their families, sacrificing everything they had to give, just so we could do stuff like this," said senior Elisha Hickman. "Just so I could go through school."