Ferriday High School salutes veterans during ceremony

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 12, 2009

FERRIDAY — Students, faculty and community members gathered Wednesday at Ferriday High School to thank those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

During a ceremony commemorating Veterans Day, Junior ROTC students presented a color guard and drill squad, other students sang and everyone present thanked the veterans who attended.

“The United States fortunately enjoys peace and freedom,” student Tiara Bradford said. “This did not come freely.”

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That freedom was paid for by the country’s veterans, and some are dealing with continuing physical and psychological wounds, Bradford said.

“Some (veterans) need their country’s help just as once their country needed theirs,” she said.

“We can best pay tribute this day by recognizing what they need.”

Student Bria Harris was equally thankful for the work of those who have served.

“I speak for all Ferriday High School when I say we are honored to be in the presence of America’s veterans,” she said.

The guest speaker at the program, Ferriday High School alumnus Sgt. George Parker, said Veterans Day is a time to reflect on those who have died in the service of their country, both in combat and domestically, such as at the recent shooting at Fort Hood.

Parker also gave a brief history of Veterans Day, which was originally known as Armistice Day, and was proclaimed to commemorate the end of World War I. In 1954, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day to commemorate all veterans.

Several students gave an overview of the wars the United States fought in during the 20th and the current century.

“(The story of America’s veterans) is a story of great sacrifice and determination,” student Earnest Woods said.

Less than a dozen World War I veterans are still alive, while both World War II and the Korean conflict both have 3 million surviving veterans.

The Vietnam conflict has 8 million surviving veterans, while the Persian Gulf War has 1 million veterans.

The number of veterans the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will ultimately produce is not yet known. So far, the Iraq war has claimed the lives of 4,362 American servicemen, while the war in Afghanistan has claimed 918.

Student Takeira White said soldiers currently serving are still in Ferriday’s thoughts and memories, as are the sacrifices of the past.

“To those of you who served in wars long ago, you will not be forgotten,” she said.

“You are our heroes. We salute you.”