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Cypress Cove Farm hosts students for veterans activities

It’s the fourth year American Legion Post 120 Commander Frankie Smith has brought four weeks of veteran-centric activities to Cypress Cove Farm for students. This year, over the course of several sessions, about 1,000 students will visit Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow’s Cypress Cove Farm to learn about flag folding, tour a military museum and hear the true stories of veterans from each branch of the United States military.

American Legion Post 120 Commander Frankie Smith addresses students in closing ceremonies at Cypress Cove Farm. The month of veterans’ activities is the brainchild of Smith, who wanted to give children the chance to truly understand who a veteran is and what it means to be free.
American Legion Post 120 Commander Frankie Smith addresses students in closing ceremonies at Cypress Cove Farm. The month of veterans’ activities is the brainchild of Smith, who wanted to give children the chance to truly understand who a veteran is and what it means to be free.

Smith said the idea struck him after a Veterans Day program at Red Bay High School in 2012.

“The kids didn’t know what veterans were,” Smith. “All they saw were a bunch of old people sitting under the basketball goals. They’re told, ‘These are veterans’” – but without any real comprehension of that significance.

Red Bay, then, was the pilot school for the Cypress Cove Farm program in 2013. Smith said it went over so well that activities have grown every year since.

This year, students will learn practical skills like flag folding and marching, as well as concepts like respect and patriotism. Students will get to ride across Cypress Cove Farm in military vehicles; tour the Fred Rosemore and Gordon Morrow Memorial Museum; and hear the tales of veterans willing to share about their service and their love for America.

North Carolina-native veteran Dave Fischer talks with students from East Franklin Junior High School about his experience serving in the U.S. Navy. Fischer was one speaker for veterans activities at Cypress Cove Farm.
North Carolina-native veteran Dave Fischer talks with students from East Franklin Junior High School about his experience serving in the U.S. Navy. Fischer was one speaker for veterans activities at Cypress Cove Farm.

Sessions opened Oct. 12 with Emmanuel Baptist School and East Franklin Junior High School fourth, fifth and sixth graders. Over the next three weeks, Cypress Cove Farm will host students from New Bethel, Cherokee, Colbert Heights, Belmont, Tharptown, Vina, Belgreen and Red Bay.

“I think it’s very neat. I really loved them learning to march, and folding the flag was very cool,” said Kaitlin Wood, third and fourth grade teacher at Emmanuel. “I really hope they learn to be respectful to our country and appreciate the things people have sacrificed for us to have freedom.”

To conclude each session, Morrow demonstrators for the students how to look a veteran in the eye, shake their hand and say “Thank you for my freedom.”

“Our children need to know the connection between veterans and their freedom,” Morrow said. “If you just take your freedom for granted, and you don’t think about the people who died, who gave sacrifices in the wars we’ve had, then you think freedom is something not worth fighting for; not worth standing up for; and not worth voting for candidates who are going to bring about a small military and believe in basic freedoms.”

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