By Tia Lynn Ivey
“You may not know me the first time we meet. I’m just another you see on the street. But I am the reason you walk and breathe free. I am the reason for your liberty.”
Those were the words that rang out last Wednesday beneath Morgan County High School’s flagpole as a JROTC student read the stanzas of the famous poem, “I am a Veteran,” written by Andrea Brett in 2002.
While the annual Veterans Day Ceremony was cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus, Morgan County High School (MCHS) still took time on Veterans Day to honor our local service men and women.
The AFJROTC students and instructors led a small outdoor gathering near the flagpole on Wednesday, Nov. 11 to commemorate the sacrifice of local veterans, particularly several veterans who have worked at the high school.
Eight local veterans were treated to a free meal from Chik-fil-A as the school’s AFJROTC held a ceremony in their honor. Sergeant Haines, a AFJROTC instructor delivered remarks on how veterans and their families have sacrificed for their country.
“Due to COVID, we weren’t able to do our large scale ceremony in the gym,” explained Dr. Miki Edwards, principal of Morgan County High School. “Our AFJROTC instructors were determined to find a way to still bring recognition and honor to our MCHS Veterans. They put together a smaller ceremony at the flag pole that included recognizing them, reading the ‘I am a Veteran’ poem and then having ‘Taps’ played by one of our students. The rain kept many of our classes from attending but didn’t stop our cadets from making this happen. Our Student Council worked through several ideas to honor our vets and landed upon providing lunch as a great way to express the school’s gratitude to them.”
According to Edwards, the school was determined to find a way to celebrate Veterans Day even if they couldn’t have the usual large gathering in the high school gym.
“The pandemic has certainly limited the way we can pull together as groups but our teachers have worked hard to create new ways to do things,” said Edwards. “This is a perfect example of that. We are fortunate to have so many veterans working in our building because their service has provided them with different perspectives, skills, and experiences that impact the work that they do here. While we hope to be back to the larger ceremony next year, our students made sure that our veterans were still recognized and appreciated.”
The powerful words of the poem read by a cadet cut through the sounds of the drizzling rain.
“There are thousands like me.
Thousands more who are gone.
But their legacy lives as time marches on.
White crosses in rows and names carved in queue.
Remind us of what these brave souls had to do.
I’m part of a fellowship, a strong mighty band,
of each man and each woman who has served this great land.
And when Old Glory waves, I stand proud, I stand tall.
I helped keep her flying over you, over all.”