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Southland Academy celebrates Veterans Day

AMERICUS — The Southland Academy Lower School celebrated Veterans Day with a special program held on Nov. 6 in the Melvin T. Kinslow Gymnatorium The Southland students welcomed over 50 veterans along with their families plus many other guests from the community. The entire program embraced the heartfelt love and respect that the veterans deserve. The patriotic setting was evident as soon as guests emerged onto Southland’s campus. Red, white, and blue bows greeted guests upon arrival as did the patriotic signs, student-created tri-boards signifying each branch of the military, and the students’ smiling faces and warm embraces greeting the honorees. Tables of wartime memorabilia allowed guests to reminisce and reflect, while the students gained a true hands on appreciation for our country’s history.
As the featured speaker, Dr. Douglas R. Joyner of Americus addressed the audience of lower school students in grades K3-5, family and friends, and especially the veterans with compassion, reverence, and humor. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served from 1971-1974, where he completed his basic training in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Desiring to be a doctor from the time he was a young boy, Joyner disclosed to the students his appreciation to the Army for allowing him to follow his dreams and earn his educational degrees to become a surgeon. He served in Germany as well as the United States. He said even though he did not know all of the veterans in the room, there would always be a bond and a sense of brotherhood with each of them.
The order of ceremony elicited laughter, applause, and tears as the lower school students honored the veterans with respect and dignity. Every lower school student entered the program waving American flags. The fifth-grade students reverently posted the colors to the tapping of the drum. The silence as the POW flag was posted was a most solemn and distinguished moment. The Pledge of Allegiance and the audience’s singing of the “National Anthem” were followed by a performance from the Southland Academy Drum Line. The order of ceremony included students performing “Thank You, Soldiers,” and “American Tears.” More students explained the significance of Veterans Day and TAPS; gave the President’s Proclamation; recognized the POW/MIA and the Wounded Warrior project. Students also presented the veterans with handmade keepsakes and personally written thank you notes. In conclusion, Southland Academy band director, Rob Ivey and student Ellis Ivey played TAPS. The entire program was a true testament to the sacrifice and heroism of our veterans.
Southland Academy thanks the Americus and Sumter County community as well as surrounding communities for the support of this prodigious event.
Addressing the veterans, Lower School Director Laura Kinslow said, “We are so proud that you are a part of the 2015 Lower School Veterans Day Celebration. We call this program a celebration because we want to celebrate you! Our desire is that all of us at Southland Academy will honor our veterans and to help educate our young citizens, these students, so they will understand the reason we are here today. On behalf of Southland Academy, on this day, Nov. 6, 2015, I thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and for representing the foundation of the United States of America.”