GALION — Galion City Schools staff and students took time Friday to honor America’s heroes. All four buildings participated in activities to show respect for veterans.
The High School and Middle School program started with the presentation of the colors, followed by the High School band performing the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” George Harmon spoke to students, followed by the presentation of high school diplomas to area veterans who left school early to serve in World War II, Vietnam or Korea.
“I served in the Navy aboard a Yard Mine Sweeper, YMS-407,” Harmon explained. “Minesweepers are the smallest of all the Navy ships and their hulls are made entirely of wood, not steel, in order to not be blown up by magnet mines placed in the water by the enemy.
“My ship was only 24-feet wide and 134-feet long, which is less than half the length of our football field. It wasn’t big enough to have a name like all other ships. It just had a number.”
Harmon’s son, Craig, spent some time in Washington, D.C., doing research at the National Archives. He discovered the actual deck log for the YMS-407.
“I found a log entry, which was before my time on board, documenting that the ship was sweeping for mines 100 yards off the shore of the Pacific island of Iwo Jima when the Deck Watch suddenly came in the galley and announced “They are raising a flag on the top of Mount Suribachi, so we must be winning.”
The event described in that log was the event the famous Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington D.C. is based on.
Harmon continued: “After being duty aboard the 407 in charge of all electric and electronic equipment, I become a member of the Naval Minewarfare Association, whose motto is “Were the Fleet goes, we’ve already been.”
Students and staff shook hands with Harmon and other veterans in attendance following the program.
“It is an honor to be able to recognize all our veterans,” High School Principal Ron Williams said. “We have a unique opportunity — thanks to the state legislature — to confer diplomas on our heroes who didn’t finish high school to serve our country.”
The Intermediate and Primary Schools honored veterans with a “Show Your American Spirit Day.” Each grade level is being asked to wear a different color of the American flag on Monday, Nov. 12. Third-grade and kindergarten students were asked to wear red-, fourth-grade students white slothing and fifth-grade students were asked to wear blue. Staff also were allowed to wear red, white and blue, too.
“These activities are important to remind our students and staff of those who have fought for their freedom,” said Galion Superintendent Jim Grubbs said. “I would like to thank all our veterans for their service to our nation.