By Jason B. Cutshaw, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Public AffairsNovember 10, 2016
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- One Team Redstone leader spent time in the community and spoke with elementary students about the importance of honoring those who served and sacrificed to keep the nation safe.
Lt. Gen. David L. Mann, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, honored Tennessee Valley veterans who dedicated their lives to serving the nation during two local events Nov. 10.
The first event was at the Downtown Rescue Mission in Huntsville during its Veterans Day program. More than 75 residents attended and 15 veterans were recognized by Mann for their service to the nation. The facility serves the homeless living throughout northern Alabama and southern Tennessee, by providing services to those in need.
"I want to express how honored I am for the opportunity to speak to all the Veterans here today and to express my gratitude for your service to our military and our nation," Mann said. "Today we pay tribute to you, and all of our veterans, and reflect on your service and many sacrifices. We all understand the importance of serving one's nation and the importance of recognizing the service and sacrifice of those who have served.
"Today is a day of tribute and reflection but also, and perhaps most importantly, of celebration," he continued. "Due to your sacrifices and selfless service, our country will always remain free and we will always be a blessed nation. The United States exists because brave men and women like you have risked their lives.
"To the veterans here today, and those no longer with us, we can never thank you enough. Our country owes you a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid," Mann added.
The Downtown Rescue Mission got its start more than 40 years ago providing food for those in need from a van. Today they serve more than 245,000 meals annually, operate a thrift store, as well as emergency, recovery, transitional and community outreach programs.
After his time at the Downtown Rescue Mission, Mann then participated at the Veterans Day program at Priceville Elementary School in Priceville, Alabama. While there, Mann discussed the history of Veterans Day and what it means to be a military veteran to more than 400 students, faculty and guests.
"When I served we didn't have days like today," said Vietnam Veteran Ronald Jones, who served with the 25th Infantry Division. "Today I am attending my great-nephew's school and they are honoring the veterans. I am glad to see that the kids are learning about veterans and they know what it means to have freedom. I think the teachers and the staff do an excellent job of portraying that.
"God bless America," he added.
The school invited local veterans, family members who are veterans, as well as the Priceville Town Council, Priceville commissioners, members of the Morgan County Board of Education and others to help honor and celebrate those who have served.
"It is such a blessing to see our students lead as well as honoring our veterans," said Priceville Elementary School Principal Tanya McCain. "It is an all-around blessing and a win-win from the inside out. We like to think we have a spirit of excellence in everything we do at Priceville Elementary and we take a lot of pride in our hard work our efforts are paying off.
"We do this to honor those who have served our country," she added. "We would not be able to have a public school or be in the setting of learning we are in had it not been for those who have served and provided us with our freedoms."
The school's vision is "Tomorrow's Leaders, Lead Today" and the students talked about the importance of having them take a role in welcoming the veterans to the school and honor them and their service.
"It feels good that we are allowed to celebrate the veterans who have served to protect our rights and I am honored," said Priceville 4th Grader Colter Moore. "My great-great-grandfather and other family members have served. I am so excited to be here to honor them and others. Thank you to all the men and women who have served for us."
During the ceremony, the students recited the Pledge of Allegiance, sang patriotic songs, and interacted with veterans and servicemembers who were present.
"I am so happy and honored that I get to meet all of these veterans," said Priceville 4th Grader Amberleigh Dean. "I am so proud of them. I am very excited and it is a good feeling to be here. I want to thank them and everyone is glad they are here."