Students thank local veterans in patriotic observance

Students thank local veterans in patriotic observance

By Mark Smith North Georgia News Staff Writer

The Union County Schools 2022 Veterans Day Celebration on Friday, Nov. 11, at the Fine Arts Center was, for another year running, an inspiring and heartfelt show of recognition, gratitude and honor from the students of the district to all United States military veterans.

“Today we gather to honor and thank all our veterans and their families,” began Ashley Shipes, the student keynote speaker. “It is a day we come together to remember all our military veterans, both men and women. We will never forget their service to our country.”

Shipes pointed out that Veterans Day started as Armistice Day in 1918 at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when a temporary cessation of hostilities, or armistice, was declared between the Allied Nations and Germany. Though World War I actually ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 19, 1919, Armistice Day – Nov. 11, 1918 – remained in people’s minds as the end of the conflict, and that name and date became the tradition.

On June 1, 1954, with the Korean War and World War II having been fought, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans,” and from then on, Nov. 11 became Veterans Day every year in honor of American veterans of all wars.

Shipes said she would always be proud of family members who served, one of whom is currently a medic in the National Guard.

“I was also told a special story about my great uncle, Fred Bradburn, who served during World War II as a light machine gunner,” Shipes said. “He was killed in action in France and is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery (there).

Eight local veterans received Quilts of Valor during the Nov. 11 Veterans Day Program at Union County Schools to honorthem for their service in the U.S. military.

Our family goal is to one day visit his gravesite in France to honor him. I believe he was a great man whom we will never forget.”

Continued Shipes, “When I look across the audience, I see many veterans and their families who are proud to have stood and served this great country of ours. I am humbled and proud.

“I want to thank you for your service to our country. You are the reason that we can all stand proud here today and celebrate. Thank you.”

As a special, first-time part of the program, Korean immigrants

Sungyull Koo and his wife, Changwha, cofounders of the 625 Foundation, traveled here all the way from Vermont to honor a local American soldier. Sungyull said he and his wife formed the 625 Foundation to educate Koreans about how America helped save South Korea from a communist fate. The Koos were just kids in 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea. Sungyull said, in his experience, many of his fellow Koreans today, especially the young, seem to know nothing of the Korean War and how American soldiers fought and died so they could be free.

The Koos’ goal is to honor a soldier each year from one of the 50 states who was killed in Korea. So far, they have honored 20 American veterans from 20 different states, with Georgia being the 21st state.

They are honoring Cpl. Claud Norman Stevens of Blairsville who went missing in action in November 1950. Stevens’ remains were never recovered and he was finally assumed killed in action.

In the student-led Veterans Day ceremony Friday, Changwha Koo of the 625 Foundation helped announce the dedication of the Children’s Library at the Elementary School in the memory of a local soldier killed during the Korean War. Pictured here with Elementary School Principal Jerry Bavero.