Keenburg students honor local veterans with hand-made cards

Keenburg Elementary held its first Veterans Day program Monday, showing their appreciation for veterans in their community with hand-crafted cards for each one of them.

Alicia Blevins, teacher of the visually impaired, said she wanted to create a program that would showcase the community’s support for its veterans.

“I have a lot of respect for these guys,” Blevins said.

Roughly a dozen veterans attended the event, including Carter County Commissioner Charles Von Cannon and chaplain Mark Diddle.

“Every veteran is a brother or a sister,” Diddle said.

He said the holiday, focused on honoring former members of the military, is a reminder of the sacrifices these men and women have made in service of their country.

He said the holiday also serves to remind people of the families these soldiers leave behind, families who “will have to live with the memory of what they have lost.”

To Diddle, military service is more than a paycheck.

“It is not simply a job,” he said. “It is about keeping this country safe.”

The event held a special significance for the school, however, as they honored math intervention teacher Brenda Shelton’s son, who died in Afghanistan in 2010.

“It was a surprise,” Shelton said. “I was not expecting it.”

As the group of veterans each took turns giving her a heartfelt hug, Shelton said the holiday is a way of combating one of her biggest fears.

“One of the biggest fears anyone has is that they will be forgotten,” she said.

The school did not forget Shelton’s son, giving her a heartfelt card just like the rest of them. There were few dry eyes among the staff as she accepted each one from a smiling student.

“[Veterans Day] is a reminder of you, who are preparing to take their place in society,” Diddle said of the students present.

He said they should make sure to spend time with their family members, especially those who have been in the service, to better appreciate the freedoms and opportunities they currently have due to their service and sacrifice.

“This is the greatest country you have the opportunity to be in,” he said.

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