• 75°

12th annual veterans memorial set for Friday

This Friday, students attending Picayune schools will have the opportunity to hear first hand stories from local veterans.

It’s all part of the 12th annual Jerry “Chip” Burge Jr., Memorial and Armed Forces Reception. It will be held Nov. 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Kelly Wise Gymnasium on the campus of Picayune Memorial High School.

A number of veterans have already agreed to sit with and share their stories with students from the high school, junior high and some elementary campuses, said Robin Jenkins, Picayune Memorial High School’s special populations coordinator.

The event will also feature a presentation of the colors by the high school’s NJROTC, the junior high chorus will perform songs from each branch of the military, and students will conduct the pledge of allegiance and give an invocation.

Students are heavily involved in the planning and presentation of this year’s event.

Jenkins said about 300 students expressed interest in helping to organize and hold this year’s event, but she could only pick 86.

On average, about 50 veterans come to the event, most of which are willing to share their stories with the students. Jenkins said that the sharing of military service stories is voluntary, but she encourages any veteran in the community to attend this year’s event even if all they do is just socialize with the students. Registration is not required, Jenkins said any veteran, regardless if they served during a conflict or not, is welcome. All they need to do is show up on Friday at about 8 a.m. Breakfast will be served to the veterans and lunch for the event will be donated by Dixie-Que BBQ. Jenkins said Katy Kakes is donating cupcakes and Dockside Seafood and Specialties is bringing bread pudding.

This event is named after Pearl River County native Jerry “Chip” Burge, who was killed while deployed in Iraq in 2007, Jenkins said.

Veterans who attend the event are invited to bring memorabilia to share with the students as they tell their story of military service.

Jenkins said a memorial will be on display honoring those local veterans who have since passed away.

Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans from Thibodeaux, La., will bring some flags representative of this country’s history and a cannon to show the students.

“It’s a real eye opening experience for our students,” Jenkins said. “It brings a lot of humility for them.”

For more information on this event, call Jenkins at 601-798-1308.