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Veterans and schools: the right decision

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

By The Staff

Last week at Veterans Memorial Park in Ocala, on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, there was a ceremony to honor those who have served our country.

It was a proud moment for Marion County. The park was packed with a crowd estimated at about 3,000 people, much larger than most any event ever at the park, and except for the Christmas parade, big football games and Silver Springs concerts, possibly the largest gathering anywhere in the county.

Of course, part of the crowd was a captive audience with a multitude of school children in attendance.

Marion County Schools were in session that day.

When some schools across the country started having classes on Veterans Day, some people objected. But school spokesman Kevin Christian pointed out at the ceremony that the schools had gone to veterans’ groups and asked, and all the groups said school should be in session, but the students should be spending the day learning about the sacrifices that veterans make.

It seemed to work as bleachers were packed with well-behaved young people.

Students from various schools in Marion took part. There were several military groups, such as JROTC units, there were elementary school singers, there were drill teams, and there were individual students taking part.

Our area of the county could be proud of its young people. The West Port Jazz Band played music beforehand, and a drum solo during the presentation of colors was a moving moment. Hammett Bowen contributed a Color Guard and some singers, and the West Port a capella group was as good as you would hear anywhere, when the flyover of jets wasn’t drowning them out. A couple of Hammett Bowen students read tributes to an injured vet who has become a project for the students.

It was a strong reminder that education doesn’t always need to take part in a structured classroom setting. Sometimes “field trips” such as this enhance the learning process, and we’re reasonably sure that some teachers took advantage by having students answer some quiz questions when they got back to the schools.

We’re sure that the veterans who attended were impressed by the attention being paid by the students. We hope this becomes an annual event, with the schools that perform being rotated so that all can get a chance to show off their skills.

We join with all these students in saying “thank you” to our veterans for a job well done.