Members of Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 traveled to Boones Creek Middle School Thursday to present the school with a committal flag for one Tri-Cities veteran buried at the U.S. National Cemetery at Mountain Home.
The Committal Flags for Schools program, which was initiated by Rolling Thunder in April 2011, helps honor deceased veterans who have no known family with a public ceremony at a local school.
Thursday’s program, which marked the eighth committal flag ceremony the members have done and the first one so far in Washington County, honored Marine Corps veteran Frederick Read, who served in Vietnam from June 30, 1960, to Aug. 21, 1964.
According to Kay Nave, media relations and committal flag dedication committee chairwoman, Read was honorably discharged from active service and was buried at Mountain Home on Dec. 15, 2009.
With no known family to present the flag to, BCMS accepted the committal flag and a plaque in his honor.
Members of Rolling Thunder set up their Missing Man Table Ceremony in the school gymnasium as students were ushered inside for the 2:30 p.m. program.
Nave said Thursday’s ceremony was a way to permanently remember Read and his service to the country.
“We will present (to the school) a committal flag and also a plaque with the veteran’s information, his name, branch of service, time of service,” she said.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, students were recognized by Principal Mike Edmonds for wearing patriotic colors at the assembly, as well as students with their family members who are serving or have served in the military.
Fifth-grade students also prepared cards to give to veterans attending the program and sang a variety of patriotic songs during the ceremony.
Physical education coach and Marine Corps Reservist Travis Thompson was also recognized and presented with a POW/MIA flag, just before Edmonds accepted the committal flag and plaque.
Nave said the program is an educational opportunity for students to learn more about the military.
“I hope they learn the value of the sacrifices that our military personnel make so that we can continue to live in this land of freedom,” she said.
Edmonds said he can still remember attending burials of veterans and the accompanying 21-gun salute from when he was a young child, and hopes his students will take on a better understanding of the sacrifice men and women in the military give for the country.
“It’s important to understand that (freedom) doesn’t come without a price,” he said. “I hope that our students will have a new respect for community, a respect for the elders in our community, all of our veterans that ... defend us every day, defend our own freedoms.”