Smyth County

Special tribute to veterans in Marion

Special tribute to veterans in Marion

MARION, Va. - About a week before Memorial Day, the Marion VFW post created one of the most impressive tributes to veterans in the region -- placing flags and crosses on the lawn of the courthouse to represent the county's veterans.

As they worked in the rain Thursday, some wondered does anyone care? Will anybody remember the sacrifices, the hardships? Well, someone does. We found a group of high school students who've compiled their stories in a book that's due out next week.

Inclement weather doesn't stop the VFW from saying 'thank you' to our veterans with a display of crosses and flags on the lawn of the courthouse. "We don't care about the rain. We may get rained on, but not rained out," the workers said.

A lot those working on the project are getting up in age and wondering if the younger generation understands what their tribute is all about.

By day's end they will have 776 crosses with flags in place. "We both contributed to the museums to kind of keep it going, so the kids can go there, view the museum, and learn about it," Vetrans Fred Rupard and Turk Johnson said.

But there's someone learning and watching what this group is doing and has done in service to our country. Students at Marion High School have compiled a book about their stories.

Classes in english, history and publishing came together for the project. "Most [veterans] don't really like talking about it. It's really hard to pry them into sending letters and talking to us," sophomore Logan Ashlin said.

But the veterans did, and what the students gained is much more than knowledge. "What you hear in history class about what happened, with people getting hands on experience, you get to hear what they actually went through," senior Cayla Haga says.

"It's hard to imagine what actually goes on on the battlefield, but when you hear it from a personal perspective rather than in a book it's that much different and personal," fellow senior Courtney Morgan added.

It's a whole new perspective for the students about people they see everyday. "You see them walking around every day but don't really know, really understand what they've been through. When you hear the stories for yourself you understand," junior Gregory Snavely said.

Understanding a sacrifice made long ago for them and the country. "Hearing all this and learning about their experiences, and how their life is, is very humbling. It's very revealing. I think it opens people's eyes," junior McCloud Cox says.

And while the veterans work out in the rain, giving back to their comrades, it's not going unnoticed. "All they do is just keep giving. My grandfather, both my grandfathers actually served, so it's kind of nice to give something back to them," senior Cristina Ballengee said.

Because the veterans were there and giving, just like on a rainy day.

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