Local students to honor veterans with annual program

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Oak Grove High School students Riley Barber and Jasmyne Allen have good reasons to honor veterans at next Thursday morning’s 21st annual breakfast at Temple Baptist Church’s Christian Activities Center.

They have gained respect for the military because of the family members who have served in the armed forces. Both have also been involved in the annual breakfast, which will begin at 7 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9.

The guest speaker will be retired Gen. Jeff Hammond.

Allen’s family sounds like roll call when relatives in the military are mentioned.

“I just like to thank the people who fought overseas for our freedoms for so long,” she said. “My mom (Kimberly Allen) is a veteran, my dad (James Sanders) is a veteran, my uncle is a veteran and my grandfather is a veteran. My parents both served in the Army. I don’t think my mom got to go overseas, but my dad got to go to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Barber has grown close to her grandfather, Danny McDaniel.

“My grandfather is always a part of it and we are very, very close,” she said. “He fought in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. He got to fight in Vietnam action; he was an Airborne Ranger.”

McDaniel brings his impressions of serving in the armed forces to the local schools, Barber said.

“He comes back to the U.S. history classes and talk about his stories in Vietnam,” she said. “I think he will do that in December. I’ve heard him three times since he has come back to the school. He tells a different story every time.”

The breakfast next Thursday will feature presentations by local VFW members, the OGHS band and showchoir and other dignitaries. Barber said she has been helping with the breakfast for the past three years, while Allen helped last year; both helped as members of the school’s Beta Club.

“I did it for the first year last year when I went through the Beta Club,” Allen said. “I set up the tables and chairs before the breakfast.”

“The Beta Club, Student Council and a few other organizations are part of it, and I went through it through the Beta Club,” Barber said. “And through choir, I have gotten to sing the tribute to the armed forces every year. This year, I will be singing the National Anthem.”

More than 100 students participate in the ceremony. “Just so many groups of people come together to do it,” Barber said.

“It’s just so interesting because it’s two groups of people – young teenagers and people who fought in wars – who come together,” she continued. “It’s not something you see every day. It’s something that makes you appreciate them more and makes them appreciate it as well. It has inspired me because now when I graduate, I want to be an Air Force nurse one day.”

Oak Grove High School teacher Jerri Whitecotton coordinates the Veterans Day event.