Tech will host virtual Veterans Day program

The Veterans Support Association of Northeast Arkansas has been presenting Veterans Day cards across Northeast Arkansas in the run-up to Veterans Day this Wednesday. At left, Kenny Wright of the VSA presents cards to Kellie Williams of the front desk at Chateau on the Ridge, while Don Foster of the VSA (right) does likewise to Chateau administrator Debbie Farrell. Veterans at Chateau receiving cards were 22-year Air Force retiree Bennis Whitaker, Navy veteran Larry Gatlin, Air Force veteran C.R. Dudley and Army veteran Bill Felty.

American veterans honored by Greene County Tech High School during its annual program have battled for freedom throughout the country’s history.

Now the school is waging its own battle on their behalf against COVID-19.

And there is a winning strategy in hand. “We can’t do gatherings because of COVID,” said principal Chad Jordan, “but we want to do something, so we’re doing a virtual program for our 49th annual Veterans Day event.”

He explained that program coordinator Lori Dial, choir director Beverly Finley and Tech TV department head Pam Andrews have assembled a series of video clips from past Veterans Day programs. In addition, the program will include footage shot especially for the 2020 program of performances by the choir and the band, as well as the Junior ROTC program, which had performed the Table of Remembrance ceremony. “That’s very moving,” Jordan said.

The virtual program is to be shown to the student body on Wednesday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day – at 9 a.m.

“We’ll also announce an inductee to the Veterans Hall of Fame,” Dial said.

“And we’ll announce a scholarship,” said Jordan.

But Nov. 11 marks neither the end nor the beginning of what the school plans for the county’s veterans. “We’ll start decorating the school with Veterans Day themes,” said Jordan, “so when they come in on Tuesday [i.e. Nov. 10], they’ll know something’s up.”

“On Saturday, Nov. 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” Dial added, “we’ll be serving our traditional pork roast meal for our veterans. It will be a drive-through around back by the arena entrance where they can pick up the meals.”

And the virtual Veterans Day program itself can be viewed by the public at large on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on both Tech TV and YouTube.

Dial also said the school wants to be able to honor past Veterans Hall of Fame inductees with yard signs, and asks such inductees to contact the school. “Just contact me here at the school with your address,” she said, “and we’ll deliver them.”

Crowley’s Ridge Academy is planning a small commemoration in the school’s chapel at 10:30 a.m.

“The Western Civics class usually does that,” said CRA director of development Terry Austin. “But the need to limit exposure of our students and staff to COVID-19, means we are limiting it to just those people.”

The Veterans Service Association of Northeast Arkansas (VSA) served meals to veterans and families Nov. 7 at the group’s headquarters at 8802 W. Kingshighway. “We served more than 100 meals,” said Kenny Wright of the VSA, “and we had a silent auction.”

Wright added that the VSA presented Veterans Day cards to area veterans in residential living facilities starting on Nov. 9.

“We’ve been to Batesville, Manila, Salem and Paragould,” Wright said, “and we’ll be going to Pocahontas, Walnut Ridge, Cave City, Newport and Jonesboro.”

Other veterans groups by and large undertook few activities to commemorate the day. “We did our annual poppy drive over the weekend,” said Darvin Weatherspoon of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2242, “and we’ll have our pancake breakfast this Saturday [i.e. Nov. 14] at the post.

The post is located at 4273 Highway 49 N. in Paragould. The breakfast runs from 7-11 a.m., at a cost of $6.50 per adult and $3 per child aged 3-11. Those aged 2 and under eat free.

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