It has become tradition at Girls Preparatory School to honor and remember those who have served in branches of the U.S. military at Veterans Day with a special lunch, where GPS girls accompany family members on campus. A full-capacity crowd of more than 150 gather in Caldwell Commons today so that participants may honor them for their sacrifice and service.
As they made their way into the building along the sidewalk flanked by American flags, the veterans were greeted by students who accompanied them at lunch. Head of School Autumn Graves, Head of Upper School Jenise Gordon, and Dean of Upper School Sarah Jackson welcomed those making their way to their seats.
“This tradition has become a significant moment where we express our gratitude for your incredible commitment to service, democracy, and bravery,” said Dr. Graves, as she opened the program. “We thank Mrs. Linda Mines (retired head of the History Department) for continuing to bring this opportunity to our community. She helped start us on a path to stop and articulate our gratitude with actions and not just words.”
Captain R. Vann Graves, Dr. Graves’ husband, flew in from London in time to attend the luncheon. “As a veteran, it’s an honor to be here with you today,” he said. Captain Graves called attention to the poppy in his lapel, saying in London, for Armistice Day (commemorated every year on Nov. 11 to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany) he saw people everywhere wearing poppies in support and acknowledgement of the sacrifices made. “It’s important that the community of GPS is taking the time to acknowledge your service as well as the service of your families who have supported you. Thank you all for coming today."
The Brainerd High School JROTC Color Guard performed the Presentation of the Colors followed by the singing of The National Anthem by GPS students Ellee Jackson, Charlotte Smith, Reese Miller, and Addie Youmuns. Senior Kathryn Thomas gave the blessing before the esteemed guests went through the lunch buffet line for pot roast, mashed new potatoes, vegetables, and freshly baked rolls.
During lunch Dr. Graves explained StoryCorps, the nonprofit organization that preserves and shares humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.
“As a former history teacher, I love stories,” said Dr. Graves. “Understanding why you all chose to enlist, to continue in basic training, and the life lessons you learned during service are valuable stories that people need to hear.” After lunch guests and their girls had an opportunity to record their stories about their military service in the library; uploading their stories to the StoryCorps website was optional.
As the event came to a close, Ms. Gordon led the room in a round of American history trivia. Each table was equipped with an iPad. As the main screen flashed questions, tables could select a multiple choice answer on their device. Questions ranged from What did Veterans Day used to be called? to During what war was the Star Spangled Banner written? Bragging rights were given as a prize but no one left empty-handed. Guests with a red slip under their chairs were awarded the table centerpieces of Bruiser Crunch popcorn and each received a GPS lip balm in addition to their lunch.