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Local students honor veterans with songs, arts

Photos by Curt Yeomans
Roberto Torres (center), the unit marketing director for the Forest Park Chick-fil-A, poses with J.E. Edmonds Elementary School students who performed patriotic songs at the restaurant on Veteran's Day.

Photos by Curt Yeomans Roberto Torres (center), the unit marketing director for the Forest Park Chick-fil-A, poses with J.E. Edmonds Elementary School students who performed patriotic songs at the restaurant on Veteran's Day.

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

When a person is coming up with a patriotic song, he or she can always turn to Beyonce for inspiration.

A group of J.E. Edmonds Elementary School fifth-graders took the beat of the rhythm and blues singer's song, "Put A Ring On It," and re-wrote the lyrics for Veterans Day.

The line "If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it," became "All the veterans in the house, raise your hands in the air." The youths sang it while shaking and strutting about, much like Beyonce does in the video for "Put a Ring on It."

Another group of Edmonds students changed Enrique Iglesias' song "I Like It," into "We Thank You."

The students performed the songs Thursday, in honor of Veteran's Day, at the Forest Park Chick-fil-A Dwarf House. The youngsters were at the restaurant to celebrate Veteran's Day by singing songs, and displaying 20 pieces of patriotic artwork. Members of the Forest Park High School U.S. Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) also were on hand, saluting Chick-fil-A patrons as they entered the restaurant.

"I'm pretty excited," said Edmonds Elementary School fifth-grader, Nathaly Jimenez, 10. "I thank them because they helped us gain the freedoms that we have."

Students at Edmonds Elementary School have spent the last month learning about patriotism, and working on Veteran's Day-related songs and artwork, said the school's music teacher, Christy Jennings.

She said the school made the songs and artwork after she had a conversation at the beginning of the school year with Roberto Torres, the unit marketing director for the Forest Park Chick-fil-A Dwarf House, about ways students could be more active in the community. The restaurant is the elementary school's partner in education, she said.

Torres said that as a retired Army veteran, he wanted to do something for other veterans on Veteran's Day. "I'm a veteran, and as far as doing something specifically for Veteran's Day, I thought we should have done something to honor veterans," Torres said. He added that watching the children perform songs made especially for Veteran's Day, "really brings to heart everything we've done for the country ... It's more than putting on the uniform. It really entails honor, and respect, and duty to country."

Edmonds Elementary School Art Teacher, Natachia Pope, added that it was also a good learning experience for the students. Some of the students did not have a full grasp of what the word "patriotism" meant before they began preparing for Thursday's performances, she said.

"It's good for the children to learn about patriotism," Pope said. "I think it's nice for them to perform for veterans, but it's more important that they learn what patriotism is about."

Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet, 2nd Lt. Kory Cooper, 16, of Forest Park High School, said he enjoyed participating in the event, partly because his grandfather was a Green Beret in the U.S. Army, during the Vietnam War. He also wants to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy, and later become an Air Force officer.

"It feels great to know that we have an opportunity to recognize the people who kept this country safe for us," Cooper said.

Thirty-year Army veteran Hannibal Jones, 74, said he appreciated the salute from the ROTC cadets, and watching the elementary school students get excited about performing on Veteran's Day. Jones is a bus driver for the Clayton County school system.

Veteran's Day holds a special meaning to him, he said, because it is the anniversary of when his second of two tours of duty ended in 1966, after he was wounded during battle.

"It feels great to see the kids do this, because when I came back from Vietnam, the country was in turmoil, and divided, and people didn't want to recognize us for our service," Jones said. "I like it when I see these young people, who are serving in the military today, getting the respect and credit they deserve."