Sad that COVID has canceled Veterans Day program at FHS

Published 2:08 pm Friday, November 6, 2020

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It is with a heavy heart that I inform area veterans that Franklinton High School will not be hosting its annual breakfast and program in 2020 for the men and women who gave of themselves to serve the United States of America. As the sponsor of the FHS Student Council, it has been my very great honor to organize this event since its inception.

Twenty-five years ago, then-Principal Beverly Young called me into her office and told me she wanted to have a patriotic program on Nov. 11, and she also wanted to serve breakfast beforehand. It was a huge undertaking in the late 1990s, when technology was evolving and there was no social media. However, as the daughter, niece, friend and former teacher of so many that this program has touched, it has proven to be one the events I am most proud of at FHS. I have had the privilege of becoming acquainted with the best this area has to offer: former prisoners of war in Germany, Korea and Vietnam, Purple Heart recipients, Silver and Bronze Star recipients, men who cut down Nazi flags in victory, and men who marked the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack at war in the Middle East. But most importantly the students at FHS got a glimpse of the average citizen soldiers from right here in our corner of the world who never thought twice to put their lives on the line for their country.

With the help of Mrs. Pauline Bankston, we began a slideshow of photographs of Washington Parish veterans. No photo has ever been removed and there are currently over 1,000 images. Each year the FHS students view this and in many cases add their own relatives. I can truthfully say that those 25 minutes at the end of each year’s program brings tears, smiles, and most importantly a sense of admiration and pride for the many who see that it is the veterans who have held America together for the past 250 years. We have held the program on Fridays before a playoff football game, on crisp weekday mornings, and once even when we lost power and the ag department hurriedly brought in a generator to finish the slide show.

This year, thanks to the COVID pandemic, there will be no sharply dressed JROTC students escorting men and women into the building, no smiling Student Council members who arrive at 6 a.m. eager to serve breakfast, nor the combined efforts of the Demon Regiment and Demonaires performing patriotic music. “A Salute to America’s Finest” will not be played and sung this year while veterans stand for their branch’s anthem, and there will be no “Taps” played to end the program. Instead, we will simply take a moment to remember the past and hope for the future of America. There have only been two men in history who have been willing to give their lives for us, and one is the American soldier.

Happy Veterans Day to all my friends, and God bless America.

Toni Tageant

Franklinton High School