By GERRI MCDONALD
Special to Atmore News
Over 100 veterans plus family members and other dignitaries attended the annual Salute to Veterans held at Perdido Elementary / Middle School on November 8. The annual event began with veterans and their guests being greeted at their cars and assisted by the members of Perdido’s football team. Once they reached the front of the gym, pre-k and kindergarten students welcomed them with cheers, flags, pom-poms and pinwheels. Members of Alabama’s Patriot Guard stood at attention as all of the guests entered, while the Perdido Middle School Band, under the direction of Melanie Brannon, performed “God Bless America.”
Principal Phillip Stewart’s welcome to everyone was followed by the invocation by seventh-grader Aidia Byrd. Baldwin County High School’s AFJROTC Posted the Colors, and Perdido’s Cub and Boy Scouts Balian Allen, Kale Barbarow, Cody Goodman and Kalligan Larken led everyone in reciting The Pledge of Allegiance. This was followed with everyone singing the “Star Spangled Banner” led by Mrs. Mary Grabill and Mrs. Trachy Miller. Perdido’s Band then performed “America the Beautiful.”
A crowd favorite, in which everyone joined in singing, was the “Armed Forces Medley,” led by Mrs. Grabill and Mrs. Miller. Veterans all stood as their specific branch of the military was recognized. Students and guests alike were impressed the Baldwin County High School’s AFJROTC, under the direction of Commander Jamie Barnes and SGT. Davis, flag folding demonstration.
Perdido Middle School students participated in the annual Patriots Pen Essay Contest, with the school’s first place student sharing theirs in the assembly. This year’s school winner was Luke McIntyre. Second place went to Braxton Scarborough and third place to Nathan Garner. This year’s theme was “America’s Gift to My Generation.”
Guest speaker this year was retired Air Force Master Sergeant Valentin R. Obregon. Mr. Obregon enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1964 and retired as Master Sergeant in 1987. Since then, he has been busy, most recently being appointed by the Governor of Alabama in 2016 to serve as a Board Member of the State of Alabama Veterans Affairs, representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. He is Commander and Service Officer of DAV White-Lee Chapter #53 in Bay Minette and current Treasurer of the Vietnam Veterans of America, as well as being an active member of the American Legion. Many will recognize Mr. Obregon for his work as the Department Representative for the William F. Green State Veterans Home, where he retired in 2005.
Closing remarks were given by Mr. Stewart and were followed by the playing of “TAPS” by Perdido students Montana Carnley and Catie Davis.
Everyone then enjoyed a reception held in honor of those men and women who faithfully served the United States, our veterans.