PARKERSBURG - Several hundred veterans, students and their families filled the gymnasium of Edison Middle School on Friday for their Veterans Day ceremony.
This is the first time the school in south Parkersburg has held an event for the federal holiday to honor locals who have served in the military.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for what you do for us and what you have done for us," said teacher Julie Watkins, who acted as emcee. "We hope to honor you today with the respect you deserve."
Photo by Jolene Craig
Jessica Lynch tells attendees her story of survival and perseverance during a Veterans Day ceremony at Edison Middle School in south Parkersburg on Friday.
The guest speaker for the event was Iraq War prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, who told the students who she was. Many of the kids in the room were not born or do not remember when in April 2003 she became the first successfully rescued American POW since World War II and the first woman POW to be rescued.
"I feel so old now," Lynch laughed after she asked the children born in 2001 to raise their hands.
She told the students of entering boot camp following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as well as the attack that led to her capture and her rescue and recovery.
"It has taken 20 surgeries to correct everything that was wrong with me," Lynch said. "I have used perseverance every day for everything.
"Whatever you take away from today, I want you to know not to give up and do whatever you can to reach your goals," she told the students.
Since she came home to West Virginia, Lynch has become a teacher and said she has not substituted at Edison, yet.
"But I have some homework for you," she said. "Thank a veteran. When people come up to a veteran and thank them, it means the world."
During the hour-long ceremony, the Parkersburg South High School Junior ROTC performed a rifle drill and 14 students from each of the grades six through eight read famous poems and quotes about veterans and the history of Veterans Day.