Palm Harbor Middle School students gathered Friday in front of their school’s Wall of Remembrance for an annual Veterans Day Salute.
The wall, which was originally built in 1986 and is in its third iteration of construction, prominently anchors the school’s central courtyard and serves as a daily reminder for the hundreds of students who pass through each year to respect and honor all veterans, both living and dead, who served in any wars.
Jennifer Jenkins, a former Palm Harbor Middle School student, said she returned to teach technical education after studying under Tony George, the technical education teacher who built the original Wall of Remembrance with his students in 1986 in dedication to his brother, who was killed during WWII.
Jenkins said she and her students continue to construct, renovate and maintain the wall each year.
“I love continuing this tradition,” Jenkins said. “It is fantastic to see the (students) thinking about those who have served.”
Principal Peggy Fowler, who came to the school last year, said she connected with the wall and the tradition immediately.
“I have veterans in my family, I have grandparents and cousins who have all served, so being able to carry on this tradition is important,” Fowler said. “All the students need to understand that Veterans Day is not just a holiday, there is a meaning behind it.”
The wall’s initial construction was dovetailed with the school’s Veterans Day Observance for students, faculty and the community. Hundreds of handwritten names, including those of relatives of people in the school community, are displayed on the wall in honor of their service.
Friday’s observance held firm to the tradition.
Guest speakers, retired Air Force Master Sgt. Kent Magilligan and retired U.S. Navy Commander Keith Kans, shared stories of inspiration, duty and thankfulness.
Colors were presented by Dunedin High School’s Jr. ROTC, and Palm Harbor Middle School students performed musical and choral pieces. A helicopter with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office buzzed the courtyard as dozens of American flags flapped in the wind.
The event culminated with a performance of taps while students and guests placed carnations to recognize specific names.