HAPS veterans salute to be presented

Hope Academy of Public Service sixth grade students, left to right, Madison Phillips, Grace Easterling, and Madelyne Maclaughlin prepare to record as they work on a Veterans Day project which will be presented during the Hempstead County Salute to Veterans on Nov. 11 at Hempstead Hall. – Ken McLemore/Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Motivated by a sense the stories of local military veterans were not being remembered, three students at the Hope Academy of Public Service have undertaken an effort to remind the community.

The video compilation of interviews with local veterans produced by sixth graders Grace Easterling, Madelyne Maclaughlin and Madison Phillips will be featured during the annual Hempstead County Salute to Veterans on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

“Grace came up with the idea last year, and this year, it just came on,” Phillips explained.

The original idea stemmed from a video project on first responders which Easterling had already been involved with at HAPS.

“I wanted to do Veterans Day to make the 911 project bigger,” she said.

All three girls developed source material for interviews with local military veterans, located willing participants, conducted the interviews and produced video from the interview sessions. The interviews span all four military service branches. Phillips has done most of the editing and the finished product is a DVD which will become part of the program on Veterans Day.

Maclaughlin wrote letters of introduction to solicit participation by veterans, and Easterling designed and produced the program which will be used at the countywide event.

“These girls are tops,” HAPS EAST teacher Jacqueline Brady said. “They did this on their own.”

Copies of the DVD will be made available to local veterans who request one by calling 870-722-2700, ext. 411.

“A lot of veterans, being in the armed forces had a lot of different impacts on their lives,” Phillips said.

She recalled a Navy veteran who decided to become a minister after leaving military service.

Others learned about the value of family and relationships beyond family as they found lifelong friends in military service.

“One had a friend die,” Easterling said. “It changed his life and showed him how much he loved that person, but he only learned that after he lost him.”

Each of the girls has found a greater appreciation for those who serve.

“It’s a chance to honor the veterans who didn’t always have the opportunity to be honored,” Phillips said.

The countywide Veterans Day program will begin at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 at Hempstead Hall on the University of Arkansas – Hope campus. A community Veterans Day parade through downtown Hope is also scheduled at 4 p.m.

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