With chants of “U.S.A., U.S.A” and young voices shouting out “Thank you for your service,” the students at Chapel Hill Elementary School burst with patriotism as they honored veterans Friday at their third annual Veterans Day parade.

The halls and walls were decorated with red, white and blue, with posters and signs made by students' hands showing appreciation to the veterans.

At least 60 veterans — crossing generations — attended the event. Some had traveled a great distance to be recognized at their grandchild’s school; some were husbands; others were dads — and a growing number of women veterans, were recognized for their service to our country.

One grandfather, Napoleon Bradley, an Air Force veteran, came at the invitation of his grandson, fourth grader Darien Bradley. The teacher at Chattahoochee Technical College sat and talked with a fellow grandfather, Simpson Berry, an Army veteran and retired school superintendent during the reception. Berry drove from Birmingham at the invitation of his grandson, James Berry, a first grade student.

Lynn Makosky, a first grade teacher who chairs the school’s celebration committee, coordinated the parade down the hall past classrooms, as students who were Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts led the parade of veterans. Excited children held small American flags that were waving vigorously as the veterans walked by them.

Following the parade, all the students gathered, seated on the floor or the school’s spacious atrium, as the veterans took front and center on the massive staircase, as member of the Chapel Hill Elementary School Chorus sang, under the direction of Music Director James Saint.

Cell phones were whipped out by teachers and other spectators, as well as the honored veterans, who were eager to capture the special moment in time.

A reception was held for the veterans in the loft upstairs overlooking the atrium area, where there was a lot of hugging and handshaking among the veterans honored that day in that way.

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