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Schoolchildren show respect for veterans
Wauka Mountain Elementary students and staff members cheer as veterans take the Walk of Fame through the school’s hallways following Wednesday afternoon’s Veterans Day ceremony at the school.

There ain’t no doubt Hall County loves this land — and the men and women who have protected it.

Thousands of children all over the county celebrated Veterans Day on Wednesday by honoring those who served or are serving in the United States military.

Wauka Mountain Elementary School honored dozens of veterans in a ceremony in which Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal thanked service members for the sacrifices they made to safeguard Americans’ liberties. The North Georgia College & State University Patriot Choir performed and the White County Color Guard presented the colors.

Cagle’s niece and Wauka Mountain fourth-grader, Natalie Nixon, introduced the lieutenant governor to the gym full of uniformed veterans, teachers and schoolchildren.

"These children are the reason that you fought. These children are the reason so many of your fellow country men died," Cagle said to service members. "As these children continue to grow, we will continue to see the fruits of your service."

Cagle recounted a trip to Normandy, France, with Gov. Sonny Perdue. He told students about the thousands of white crosses that mark the deaths of American soldiers in the pivotal World War II battle.

"These people gave all that they have so we can stand up and enjoy the freedoms we have," he said.

Cagle acknowledged teachers’ service to the community and encouraged those in attendance to also lend their talents and leadership to the community.

"By doing those acts, we will honor our veterans more than any speech can," he said.

Following the assembly, children lined the hallways as veterans participated in a Walk of Honor. Children showed their respect for service members by waiving American flags, holding up signs saying "Fallen but not Forgotten" and singing "God Bless America" as they high-fived veterans.

Wauka Mountain third-grader Joshua Hughes said he wants to thank veterans for saving the United States.

"I think that they’re very brave for doing that," said Wauka Mountain third-grader Macy Barnes. "Thanks for being so brave and fighting for our country."

Bridget Story joined her 8-year-old son, Tyler, at Wauka Mountain to celebrate her husband’s service in the U.S. Navy. She said she’s glad to see schools encouraging students to celebrate military service.

"I think it’s great especially with the way things are right now with the war," she said. "I think it’s important they show their appreciation for their country and for their service members."

Retired U.S. Marine Col. Patricia Zaudtke teaches at North Hall High School. She said she’s touched to see so many young Americans celebrating veterans and feels her service is valued.

"It’s good to see our people standing behind our military and instilling gratitude in our young people," she said. "It’s so vital to ensuring the success of our nation, because they are the next to take the helm."