A group of Newnan High School students visited the state capitol last week to attend and speak at a commemoration ceremony for Vietnam Veterans – and ended up with a selfie with the governor.
The students, who are in Steve Quisenberry's Vietnam War class at NHS, were at the capitol for National Vietnam Veterans Day in Georgia. They were the only young people to speak at the ceremony, held in the capitol rotunda, said Quisenberry.
The annual event at the capitol is part of the 13-year commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Three of the students spoke at the ceremony.
“They did a great job,” Quisenberry said. The students from his class were recognized several times during the ceremony, he said.
After the ceremony, various groups were having their pictures taken with Gov. Brian Kemp and others on the steps inside the capitol. Once that was over, Kemp came over to talk with the Newnan group, along with State Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan, whose nephew is in Quisenberry's class.
“He was super friendly with the kids, he was just talking to them, shaking their hands,” Quisenberry said. “It was impressive."
Then Kemp turned to Brass and said, “Let me see your phone,” Quisenberry said. “He holds it up and says let’s see how many people we can get in this,” and took a selfie of the group.
The students thought it was great that the governor would do something like that. “I was not expecting that,” Quisenberry said.
“He and his wife were just really friendly. I was impressed with that. If you’re willing to take a few minutes to take a couple of pictures and talk to those kids, I thought it was pretty neat,” he said.
Anna Grace Rogers was one of the students who spoke. “It was just really cool to meet the governor, of course, and Commissioner Roby and General Jackson."
Gen. James Jackson is director of the Vietnam War Commemoration, and Mike Roby is commissioner of the Georgia Department of Veterans Service. There were also many Vietnam veterans at the event.
“It was just a really cool experience, not only to meet different veterans but… it just kind of brings everything that you read in textbooks into real life,” Rogers said. “The veterans were so very appreciative to see us there. We are equally appreciative of the fact that they served and fought for our country. It was a great experience, I absolutely loved it.”
Zach Johns also spoke. Johns has always been interested in veterans and the conflicts that America has been a part of. Both of his grandfathers are Vietnam veterans and he knows that many veterans didn’t receive the kind of respect they deserved when they came home from war.
“Being able to go to the capitol and speak on such things, just to honor our veterans there, was really an amazing experience,” Johns said. “It’s something I hold deep in my heart and I hope I can do it again some day."
Romina Subia thanked the veterans for their valor and their service.
Actually meeting with and hearing from veterans about their experiences is so much different than learning history sitting down in a classroom, she said. “It brings a new meaning to learning and it’s really cool. I just love being able to meet veterans to learn about that,” she said.
Quisenberry's Vietnam class is an elective for 11th and 12th graders, and is very popular.
“Everyone said you just have to take it,” said Rogers.
“It’s an iconic class everyone knows,” said Subia. Her older sister took the class two years ago. “It had such a big impact on her, I just knew I had to take it,” she said.