Special to Atmore News
On Tuesday, November 10, it was the students at Escambia County Middle School who held a public thank you and recognition of our veterans in Atmore. The misty drizzle let up for a time to allow fifth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students to gather around the school sign along Highway 21 and place small American flags to honor our country’s veterans. These grades were selected because their social studies curriculum included World War I and the original Armistice Day and the 1956 renamed holiday of Veterans Day. Members of the Atmore Lions Club were invited to help with procuring and placing the flags, and members of the American Legion and VFW were recognized and thanked for their service.
The real story behind the event centered around ECMS coach and physical education teacher Layton Knight, who spent eight months in the United Arab Emirates, having returned in November of last year.
Knight said, “The children in the middle school do not understand how blessed they are. Children in other countries wish they had the chances American children have.”
He also commented that they thought every soldier had a weapon and killed people. His mission has been to tell them that support soldiers are also important and necessary. He served as an electrician in the 556 RHS Squad while in the UAE. Knight, a 12-year veteran, also served in Kuwait in 2014-2015.
ECMS principal Takecia Barlow said guidance counselors Cordia Lee and Jawuan Osborne were the planners of the Veterans Day event and wanted the students to recognize veterans and support their own teacher vet, Layton Knight. According to Barlow, there are about 23 students at the middle school with a family member serving in the military, mostly in the national guard. After everyone but a few adults had left, Barlow stooped over, picked up a flag, and got in the middle of the already placed circle of flags. Holding the flag in her right hand, she began singing “America” and then a few lines of our national anthem. Even though they could not hear her singing, people in cars waved and tooted their horns in recognition of what was taking place.
Lions Club members present were Emily Dykes, Bub Gideons, Kevin Garrett, Renee Hardy, Mandy Thompson, Brandy Geiger, Candace Wooten, and Nancy Karrick. Veterans were Layton Knight, Dave Graham, Jack Wright, Woodrow Stewart, Paul Chason, Harold Madison, Billy Gates, and Mike Hanks.
News photo by Nancy Karrick