Picayune HS Armed Forces Reception
Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 17, 2014
Sacrifice and service was the theme of Picayune Memorial High School’s Armed Forces Reception held Friday.
World History teacher Allison Wheat said the event began as a way to honor the memory of Chip Burge, who died while serving his country during the war in Iraq about eight years ago.
“My students wanted to do something,” Wheat said.
That first year the event featured about 11 veterans, who came to the school to share their stories.
Every year since, an average of 100 veterans come to the school to talk to students in a one-on-one fashion.
Friday morning about 40 veterans from various wars and times of peace shared their stories with groups of up to five. Students sat and listened intently, at times taking notes.
Wheat said about 100 veterans had planned to visit the school at some point throughout the day-long event.
Classes from the high school and the junior high took advantage of the opportunity to learn about the sacrifices enlisted men and women offer to their country.
“Our motto is sharing our experience with the next generation,” Wheat said. “These men and women gave up so much so this generation could be here now.”
Many of the students have family members who are enlisted in a branch of the military, and it is those students who appreciate the most what the veteran’s had to share.
The event also featured a Civil War reenactment, complete with a functioning cannon and single shot rifles.
Col. L.E. Goutierez with the Washington Artillery of New Orleans said the group conducts and attends reenactments all over the eastern part of the country. Goutierez said several members of the group have performed reenactments in documentaries on the History Channel and played parts in movies.
The cannon they featured at Friday’s event was six-pound reproduction, capable of firing a round up to 1,800 yards. The weapon is so accurate that an experienced artillerist could hit an object the size of a washing machine at long range, Goutierez said.
Friday they shared with students the facts behind firing a cannon and the purpose of artillery. Goutierez and his group also provided students with the history of their group.
One of the other things they shared with students was the terrible nature of the Civil War. As an example, Goutierez said the war took 600,000 American lives, more than all other wars combined that the U.S. has participated in since.
Their reenactment also included the roles women played in the war. Group member Jhanne Stasney was portraying a nurse, who during that time period would travel with a unit to provide services such as sewing, cooking and taking care of the soldiers. Nurses would carry food and water into battle and treat injured soldiers until they could be moved for more extensive care.
Wheat said the school holds the event annually.