Sixth and seventh grade students at Thomson Middle School got some firsthand knowledge and tips on how to write an essay about why Americans should honor military veterans when two longtime military officers visited last Thursday.
U.S. Army Retired Maj. Pete Pinkston, who grew up in Thomson and attended local public schools, as well as U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Geoffery A. Jackson, a native of Daytona Beach, Fla., told students it was important for them to understand the sacrifices that military men and women have made and why.
"The central message is to honor them for their sacrifice, the time spent from their families and that they have done more than average citizens have done," said Ret. Maj. Pinkston, who lives in Grovetown and who now works as an IT supervisor at Fort Gordon. "Some have even given their lives for their country - the biggest sacrifice they could ever make."
Ret. Maj. Pinkston said he and others in the military don't have to be thanked for what they do or have done for America, because they chose to make the sacrifices that come with serving in any branch of the military.
"This is what I chose to do for my country," Ret. Maj. Pinkston said. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in June 1983 and served for five years before enrolling at Augusta State University, where he earned his bachelor of science degree in political science. While there, he also earned a commission status as a second lieutenant through the Army ROTC. He also holds two master's of science degrees from Pennsylvania State University and Central Michigan University. "I made the sacrifices that I made to defend our country."
Ret. Maj. Pinkston and Sgt. Maj. Jackson, who serves as academic dean for the 15th Signal Brigade at Fort Gordon, interacted with students through questions and answers. Those responding received Army key chains.
The words "dignity and respect" are two other reasons for honoring American military veterans, Ret. Maj. Pinkston said. "We believe in what our country stands for."
He later provided the names of some great military men for them to consider writing about. One of the names mentioned was the great World War II hero Gen. George S. Patton. Gen. Patton was considered one of the most famous four-star generals in American history. Another man, considered an American hero was Pat Tillman, who left a promising career in the National Football League to join the U.S. Army. He played with the Arizona Cardinals.
Mr. Tillman lost his life doing what he chose to do for his country.
And so did thousands of other America's war heroes buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Sgt. Maj. Jackson, who has been highly decorated for his bravery in his nearly 23 years of service in the U.S. Army, recalled making a big sacrifice before one of his sons, Joseph ever began walking. He remembers having to leave on a mission.
"I understood that I was a soldier and that I had to leave my family behind," Sgt. Maj. Jackson said.
In closing, Ret. Maj. Pinkston told students at Thomson Middle School that they need to remember that American military veterans deserve respect and thanks.