Miami Trace High School honored veterans with its annual Veterans Day breakfast and program Friday morning to honor their sacrifice for the nation.
The program began with the Pledge of Allegiance and Star-Spangled Banner prior to music performed by the symphonic band. The selection, American Patrol by Frank W. Meacham, was played by band members under the direction of Ken Hoffman, as a tribute to the men and women of the armed forces.
Jordan Bernard took to the podium to give an analysis on the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1982, Francis Bellamy wrote the first version of the pledge. It appeared in the Boston-based youth magazine, The Youth’s Companion, and was intended to be a recitation for school children in honor of the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering America. Following this celebration, the pledge became a popular daily routine for more than 12 million school children. The last change to the pledge came on June 14 (Flag Day), 1954 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower added “under God.”
During the ceremony, Bernard explained (line by line) what the significance of each phrase of the pledge is. Ultimately, Bernard said, when someone recites the pledge it means that they promise their loyalty to the flag itself, promise loyalty to the other 49 states of the union and promise loyalty to the government that unites us all.
Charley Milstead, Erika Marshall and BJ Anders were the next to speak and they honored the current veterans on staff at Miami Trace. Additionally, a list of former Miami Trace High School students who were or are currently active was read.
For the 30th year, Ed Helt participated as the Americanism chairman of the American Legion Post 25. Following his introduction by Jacklyn Wisecup, Helt introduced various veteran organizations at the ceremony. Members of the VFW Post 3762, the Fayette County Veterans Service Commission and the Fayette County Honor Guard were among the groups introduced.
Helt then announced the school and county winners of the annual 50-question Americanism Test administered each year to the sophomore, junior and senior students. This year the school winners with the highest scores on the test were sophomores Haiven Pepper and Cole Enochs, juniors Makayla Seymour and Nicholas Foody, and seniors Ragan Powers and Dylan Page. Additionally, three of the students, Enochs, Powers and Page, were also named the county winners for their grade.
Presenting the awards and McDonald’s restaurant gift cards were Elaine Stahlsworth and Dave Frederick. Helt thanked both of the presenters and other long-time supporters of the test, including the Fayette County Veterans Service Office and Commission and Nick Epifano, owner of the Fayette County McDonald’s Restaurants.
The honoree of the 2017 Veterans Day program was Jim Grandstaff, an Air-Transport Command pilot in the U.S. Air Force and served during World War II. Grandstaff was born April 20, 1922. He and his family lived on the “Pinetop,” a ridge south of Bainbridge.
Grandstaff was first introduced to the military when he attended a camp on a military base with his fellow peers on the behalf of one of his high school coaches. While there, he became a platoon leader and learned his true belonging in the military. In 1940, Grandstaff graduated from Central High and was prepared to enroll in college. However, he was not financially able to at the time. After working for a manufacturing firm for two years, he had finally saved enough to pay his way through The Ohio State University. However, he decided that when he turned 20-years-old, he would join the Aviation Cadets.
Following a surgery for a nose injury suffered from high school football, Grandstaff was accepted into the cadets. It was while waiting to be called to duty that he met his wife Margie at her birthday party at Buckeye Lake. After a night of dancing together, they had decided to remain dancing partners for the rest of their lives. In February of 1943, Grandstaff was called to duty.
Grandstaff served in Europe throughout World War II. As part of his assignment to the Air-Transport Command, he was to run an airline during the war for both civilian and military use. Whether it was flying a POW back to his home base or transporting generals to Berlin and Moscow, Grandstaff excelled as a pilot and was called “skilled and intuitive.”
The speakers, Dylan Page and Jillian Sollars, thanked all of the veterans in attendance for their service to the country following the reading of Grandstaff’s life and service. They dedicated the reading to Grandstaff’s wife, Margie, who passed away in 2006. The couple was married for over 59 years. Finally, Page and Sollars presented an Army Air Forces Challenge Coin to Grandstaff.
“I want to thank the two seniors,” Grandstaff said. “We have lived in the county for 30 something years. I love you all and thank you.”
Following a reading and playing of taps, Miami Trace High School Principal Rob Enochs thanked the veterans once again for their attendance to the breakfast and dismissed the students to class.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy