Wauka Mountain Elementary School held a "Walk of Honor" for military veterans Friday, with students cheering and waving flags as veterans, many in uniform, passed by them down school hallways.
"It's good to look at the kids' faces knowing that they are learning what a veteran is and how their freedom got here," said Laverne Holeman, an Army corporal who served in the Korean War.
The Walk of Honor was part of the school's Veterans Appreciation Ceremony, a labor of love for Robert Park, the North Hall school's physical education teacher. Park's brother-in-law, Army Capt. Will Parker, was serving in Iraq at the time.
Park had worked on the event since August with music teacher Michelle Truelove. He said that after meeting with her, he believed "we've got to do something."
The ceremony featured a presentation of colors by the White County Color Guard and the school chorus performing songs of the U.S. military branches.
Hall schools Superintendent Will Schofield spoke to the students about never forgetting the sacrifice of veterans. "Take a long, hard look at these veterans," he told his young audience, gesturing toward the large group of veterans seated in the corner of the gymnasium. "They are the real heroes."
He also showed a video that was produced as part of a Veterans Day project by the East Hall High School Naval JROTC. The video showed the students' interview with Golden Crown, a World War II veteran who died two weeks after the video was filmed.
The Hall County school system has posted the interviews on its Web page, www.hallco.org.
"Every day you come to school, when you learn something new, I hope today you learned a valuable, lifelong lesson," said Park, whose brother-in-law is back home after 15 months in Iraq.
"I hope you learned about the gratitude we should have for these men and women who have served our country and the respect they have earned and deserve."
After the ceremony, students were dismissed from the gym to line the hallways. Once they were all in place, the veterans began parading down the halls, receiving applause and loud cheers, as well as hugs from some onlookers.
Park said he was pleased by the large turnout of veterans at the event. The school had advertised the ceremony in its newsletter, sign in front of the school and "mostly by word of mouth," he said.
"It was a good celebration," said William Thomas, an Army sergeant who served in the Vietnam War, including as part of the Tet Offensive, a major strike by North Vietnam to dislodge military operations in South Vietnam in 1968.
"It's a good thing for kids who have never seen a veteran in uniform," he added.