COVINGTON, Ga. — COVID-19 won’t stop students and faculty of Mansfield Elementary School from continuing its tradition of honoring former and current service members on Veterans Day.
For more than 25 years, the school has come together to host a program that includes between 40-60 veterans who are invited by students, said Chris Haymore, principal of Mansfield Elementary School. The veterans speak to the students about their time in the military.
To honor prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action, the school displays a place setting called the “missing man table.”
“We have two students whose uncle did not return from Vietnam and was never confirmed killed,” Haymore said.
After the program concludes, students from each grade level chooses a time to walk to a neighboring cemetery and place flags on the graves of veterans.
Haymore said this year would look different due to COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of holding its typical program, the students will only be allowed to place flags at the cemetery.
Although they won’t get to hear from them this year, Haymore said it is important for students to honor veterans and hear their stories.
“I always tell the kids that they here and study about wars in social studies, but this is not about countries and politics,” he said. “This program is about the individuals who fought, served and died. It gives a face to some of the lessons they learn.”
Haymore said students are often proud to be a part of the day’s festivities, but local veterans are also grateful for the school’s program.
“We really hear from the veterans,” Haymore said. “They tell us how grateful they are that we continue to have a program like this. It’s good to let them know they are appreciated.”