Nationally, the Exchange Club has been observing One Nation Under God every November for nearly half a century. The program, according to the organization’s website, “aims to increase appreciation of our rich religious heritage, but also seeks to remind Americans that we must always trust in a higher power for guidance, protection and strength.”
For the last eight to nine years, said Sandra Sudduth, one of the event organizers, the Jacksonville Exchange Club has been inviting the Kitty Stone Singers to come and share a musical tribute to the United States Military.
The children gave the members a history of American conflicts and a thanks to those who served the nation during those times.
Choir director Lisa Gillespie said each year the sixth grade teachers hold an essay contest to see what honoring Veterans Day means to students. “It creates a reality for them that it’s about actual people and not just something we learn about in history books,” she told the group.
Libby Patterson, one of the winners of the contest, told the group that she had many family members in the army, including a great-grandfather who served in World War II and a grandfather who served in Korea and Vietnam.
“Thank you for risking your life for me and other people you may not know,” she said.
Libby noted that almost 100 years ago, Americans made Veterans Day an official holiday. “We have Memorial Day for the people who have perished, but today we are celebrating Veterans Day for the ones who are living,” she said. “For the ones who were blessed by the war who get to come home and be with family, friends and loved ones. Again I am honored to say thank you for your service.”
Sixth grader Dylan Murphy told the Exchangites that when he learned about the origins of Veterans Day, he said he couldn’t help but look at the American flag hanging in his classroom.
“I believe that’s why every soldier fights for our country—to keep our pride high and not let it fall,” he said.“I believe Veterans Day is a day to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, their love of their country, and their willingness to serve and sacrifice.”
The Kitty Stone Singers closed the ceremony with a rendition of “Why We Sing,” a song second grader Kelcie Comisac described as one “of peace, love and strength.” Comisac reminded the crowd why they were all there: “Coming together as a community can soothe our souls, mend our hearts and bring us home.”