Annual Military Signing

Seventeen Seniors Enlist In Military
World War II veteran Otis Brannon pins a senior who enlisted in the Army. Brannon was accompanied by Vietnam veteran, Barry Sammett.
World War II veteran Otis Brannon pins a senior who enlisted in the Army. Brannon was accompanied by Vietnam veteran, Barry Sammett.
Photo Credit: Enoch Godwin

On the afternoon of May 2, special guests, school staff, students, administrators and JROTC gathered in the auditorium. Two rows of chairs were lined up on the stage with war veterans service members and a special group of teenagers sitting in them.

The students in the chairs have decided that their future is to serve in the military and the veterans put pins on their collars. This event was put together by teacher Erin Coggins, the group Honoring Veterans Legacies and JROTC.

“This is the third annual one. I just always saw so many people celebrating athletes and signing and having a good time, but nobody ever applauded kids for joining the military and without those kids willing to do that we would not be sitting right here,” Coggins said.

The president of Honoring Veteran Legacies, Chris Batte, proposed the idea of getting pins from the Navy surplus store and giving the signees pins, recognising their commitment that is done in private

“That just became the tradition of getting the veterans involved, and actually pinning them I think it’s really cool to actually be pinned by one of our heroes and this year we had a world war two veteran which is special,” Coggins said. “And of course we do the traditional things like the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem. But we tried to make it short and sweet but meaningful.”

Other faculty and students got involved in the ceremony and showed the signees their appreciation.

“We were very fortunate that Mrs. Shrader provided the homemade cupcakes and the punch so that was new, we had never had anyone do that for us before,” Coggins said. “Junior Sopheia Bailey, she is president of Teens for Troops, she is also a cadet in JROTC, we kind of planned what we wanted this to look like and we went through JROTC to get the ones who signed.”

Honoring Veteran Legacies and Teens for Troops were involved in the event in part getting the veterans to arrive, and be on time.

“Honoring Veteran Legacies serves veterans here in the area, world war two through Vietnam. We have monthly meetings, we have events, just to make sure they have fellowship with one another and find that relationship with other soldiers that have been through what they have been through,” Coggins said. “Then their second component which is what I have taken one is an educational website where we are coordinating with teachers around this area putting them out there on a website called eternal salute.”

Getting the signees was a simple task involving posting on Facebook asking for parents to inform Coggins if their child was joining the military. With some being provided by the guest recruiters 17 in total signees were received and honored. In addition a bench dedicated to local service members was unveiled.

“Every year I got to speak at the ‘Friends of World War II Memorial  conference and so once you do that you have a community project you’re supposed to do,” Coggins said.

As the pins were being distributed one of the veterans chose to give advice to the signees.

“What I loved about what he said is that he told that being in the Navy was one of the best part of his life,” Coggins said “And then when the World War II veteran pinned that was just extremely special.”

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