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Russellville prays for peace

Students lined the front steps of the Franklin County Courthouse Dec. 6 and prepared to perform for the Cultura Garden Club’s Every Light a Prayer for Peace Ceremony. Veterans, who are the reason for this 67th annual ceremony, filled the chairs behind them as parents and other community members gathered together for the event.

Hillary Malone Hall, president of the Cultura Garden Club, welcomed everyone to the event, and Doris Woodruff, historian, delivered the invocation, in which she called for the “Holy Spirit to empower us to reflect love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, thoughtfulness, gentleness and self-control in our own lives as we enter this joyous season.”

Russellville High School’s JROTC presented the colors, and the National Anthem was performed by RHS students. Maj. Gen. Troy Oliver led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Cheri McCain told the history of the Every Light a Prayer for Peace Ceremony, which goes back all the way to the 1950s when Dorothy Speir Parrish wrote the poem and a tree lighting ceremony was held. The purpose of the ceremony is to honor America’s soldiers.

“As nations continue to be in conflict today, we remember and honor those brave men and women that are serving our country at this moment all around the world,” McCain said.

The RHS Ensemble, RCS Performing Arts class, Choral classes and RCS Tiger PAWS then sang “Light in the Hallway” and “This is My Wish.” At the end of the ceremony, they performed “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

Lorraine Perez, a teacher at RHS and a mother to one of the girls in the choir, said she enjoyed the ceremony and takes great pride in the community.

“The past two years my daughter has sang with the choir, and I love being able to support both her and my students. It’s also great that we can honor veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedom,” Perez said.

Jim Poss, pastor at Branches Church, was the guest speaker. He emphasized the importance of honoring veterans and current service men and women who help the nation maintain its freedom and peace. Poss then related that peace to the eternal peace he said comes through Christ alone.

He quoted Isaiah 9:6, “A child is born to us. A son is given to us. And he will be our ruler. He will be called ‘Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.’ His royal power will continue to grow; his kingdom will always be at peace.”

The RHS/RMS Drama Department read aloud the poem “Light a Candle,” and RHS band director Jeremy Willis performed taps to close out the ceremony.