Students, community honor veterans

Kevin Boozer Staff Writer

November 18, 2013

WINNSBORO — Monday morning at Fairfield Elementary students, faculty and staff held a Veterans Day Program honoring all who served in the armed forces for the United States. The event was a partnership between the school district of Fairfield County and the Fairfield County Veterans Affairs.

This year’s event included a video presentation, having each veteran stand and be recognize, and a song by the FES Singing Pirates.

This year the attendance from the public declined with around 30 people attending. But members of the crowd were moved by a few new activities. A new wrinkle for 2014 was including a children’s book “America’s White Table” that was read and interspersed with verses from patriotic songs.

Children presented the veterans with posters, read them poetry and sang in their honor. Local storyteller Frances O’Neal told the story of “The Star Spangled Banner” and led the crowd in a rendition of the national anthem.

Teacher Derrick Washington, himself a veteran, spoke to the students about what Veterans Day means to him.

The youngest of 10 children, he said the rules of his household helped prepare him to serve in the Army, which he joined in 1981. He mentioned the friendships and the teamwork he experienced and encouraged the youth to develop those qualities in their lives as well.

The folding of the American flag was a key point of the program. Sixth-grade student Markelyis Gibson was chosen to help SFC Jeffery Dykes fold the flag. Gibson earned the privilege through good behavior and after a teacher nominated him. He said he had practiced repeatedly and the young man was solemn as he helped fold the flag.

Dykes served five years in the Marines before following in his father’s footsteps and joining the Army. He served three tours in Baghdad while in the Marine Corps and now works as an Army medic.

The hardest thing, he said, about those deployments was being away from his family.

“But I volunteered and you do what you have got to do,” he said. He currently is an Army medic on recruiting duty and is stationed in Columbia.

Other veterans attended who served in various branches of the armed service. A member of the Marines from 1972-74, this was Winnsboro resident Don Miner’s first time to attend a veterans service at the school. He came at the request of the veteran’s affairs office.

“It is great to be here to give honor to veterans, both who are here and are not here, “he said.

The observances did not end on Monday for the FES students. As an outreach project, FES students also are writing thank you letters to be distributed worldwide to servicemen and servicewomen through the Red Cross.