New Matmoras school holds POW/MIA Day

CHAD PLAUCHE-ADKINS The Marietta Times Former SSgt. Tim Peterson speaks for World War II POW Herman Zerger during the POW/MIA Day at New Matamoras Elementary School on Friday.

NEW MATAMORAS– Veterans, faculty and students gathered at New Matamoras Elementary School on Friday for the 29th annual POW/MIA day.

The event featured speakers and music in order for the students and community to honor veterans. Students were also informed of the sacrifices people in uniform have endured in order to preserve their freedoms.

“It’s a very big thing to recognize and remember the POWs and MIAs,” said Bill Creighton, principal at New Matamoras Elementary.

The program started with students and veterans presenting the colors so the students could lead everyone in both the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.

Students then read essays they wrote about their feelings about the flag and the respect they have for veterans.

CHAD PLAUCHE-ADKINS The Marietta Times Frontier Local Schools music teacher Kayla Burke leads the students of New Matamoras Elementary School in singing the national anthem Friday during a POW/MIA recognition ceremony.

“I’ve learned the flag means bravery and courage. I feel like I understand and respect it more now,” said sixth-grader Briley Hupp, 11.

Kaycee Berentz, 11, also a sixth grader, said she felt she learned a lot about soldiers and veterans getting ready for the program.

“Now I know how much the soldiers sacrificed. I feel like I know how much they gave and respect them even more than I did,” she said.

The essays were the highlight of the event for him, said Jeff Hayes, district five commander of the VFW.

“I can’t top what the sixth grade students already said. They hit the nail on the head,” he said.

The guest of honor was Herman Zerger. The 94-year-old is the last remaining World War Ii veteran at the Woodsfield VFW. Unable to stand for long periods due to his age, he relied on former SSgt. Tim Peterson to tell his story about being a POW of the Nazis.

Peterson spoke of the trials and hardships that Zerger had to endure while being a prisoner in a POW camp in Germany. Lice, fleas, and starvation were part of the daily routine for Zerger, said Peterson.

Peterson periodically speaks at events in the area that help bring awareness to veterans and their sacrifices.

“Because if you don’t do it, nobody will,” he said.