By Nancy Gould, Hunter Army Airfielf Public AffairsDecember 10, 2009
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - Benedictine Military School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets marched in formation on the school's parade field while friends and staff members and veterans watched from the stands, Dec. 7.
Gannam Day, a solemn event, is held each year at the school to honor 1938 school graduate Staff Sgt. George K. Gannam, the first Savannahian to die for his country during World War II, perishing in the attack on Pearl Harbor 68 years ago.
American Legion Post 184 in Thunderbolt, Ga., is named in Staff Sgt. Gannam's honor. Every year, representatives from the post attend the ceremony and present the Gannam Award to the most outstanding sophomore cadet, and the God and Country Award to an outstanding senior cadet.
This year's God and Country Medal was presented to Cadet Capt. Anthony L. DeVanea and the George K. Gannam Medal to Cadet Staff Sgt. James C. Reintzell by Brig. Gen. Phillips, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general-rear.
Staff Sergeant Gannam's nephew, Joe Gannam, a BC graduate, was also present at the ceremony. He accepted a flag in Staff Sgt. Gannam's memory from the senior ranking-cadet, and presented it to the school to fly over the all-male campus the following school year.
"This flag is a living symbol of the legacy of all who gave their lives," said Joe Gannam. "We live up to that legacy today with people still fighting and dying for our freedom."
Brigadier General Jeffery Phillips spoke at those gathered and remembered the Soldiers and servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan who are still fighting for freedom.
He reminded them of the passive mindset of the country at that historic time.
"We were inattentive and deluded," he said, referring to the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. "We didn't think what was happening would affect us."
Brigadier General Phillips said that we should remember the tragedy of Pearl Harbor as well as the tragedy of 9/11, so that we won't forget again.
"We responded to the 9/11 attack with quick resolve," Brig. Gen. Phillips said. "That's what we do. We go to lands we've never seen and defend people we've never met, leaving freedom in our footsteps."
Brigadier General Phillips' final challenge to the BC cadets was to be the best they can be and to strive to make a difference in the lives of others in the pursuit of freedom.
"Evil triumphs when good men do nothing," he continued. "Those we honor today did something. They fought and made a difference."