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Pride & Patriotism to honor students’ love of country

By Staff | Oct 23, 2014

Lee County students of all kinds had a chance to show their love of country in artistic form and, on Nov. 6 at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, the best of the best will be feted for their work.

Pride and Patriotism: Celebrating the Arts & Honoring Veterans will feature some of the finest work from students who attend Lee County’s public, private and charter schools, as well as the home schooled in this celebration of veterans and the sacrifice they made to protect our freedom.

At a Tuesday press conference at the Invest in America’s Veterans Foundation, organizers of the event showed highlights of last year’s program and gave a glimpse of what to expect this year.

It also reminded people of what the event is about.

“The program provides us in Southwest Florida with a link between the students in our schools, our community and our veterans. It provides an opportunity to thank those who have separated themselves from family and comfort,” said Col. William Deile, one of the event’s organizers.

Randy Moody, operations officer for Pride and Patriotism, came dressed in a Continental Army uniform from 1779 as a way to recognize all veterans from all eras, especially those still living.

“It connects the youth and our veterans so they can meet those who provided them with freedom,” Moody said. “Lots of what you hear in negative. This is positive, as our students display their understanding of patriotism.

Pride and Patriotism is a non-profit organization founded in 2003, born out of the love of the arts and country, which is forged together by a student’s artistic talents in a patriotic theme with the presence of veterans.

The event has grown gradually both in scope and audience size. More than 1,600 attended last year’s event and has grown to include students from all schools and to include new categories.

There were more than 500 submissions in the categories of writing, drawing/painting/ collage, digital/photography and documentary.

The students were split into five grade groups, with each having a different theme.

K-2 had “Red, White and Blue”; 3-5 had “Our Flag”; 6-8 was “Honoring our Veteran Heroes”; 9-10 was “Freedom is not Free”; and 11-12 is Wreaths Across America.”

Among the local winners were:

Lauren Edward, Oasis High School, in the 9-10 writing category with the poem “Freedom’s Payment”; Amber Shelton, Island Coast, in the 11-12 category for digital/photo with “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” and Ricardo Lopez and Kalina Mukdasnit of North Fort Myers High in the 11-12 documentary category with “Humanity in War.”

The event will also feature the Southwest Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Cypress Lake High School Marching Band, both of which will play patriotic music, poetry readings, and local artist Leoma Lovegrove will make a live painting to the orchestra’s rendition of “Ghost of Antietam.”

Kathy Himes, secretary of Pride and Patriotism, said there is an importance to this event, since many of our veterans from World War II and Korea are leaving us and the importance of patriotism is not taught much in school.

“If we don’t teach them about patriotism, unless they have veterans in the family, they’ll never know,” Himes said.

The program begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online at: www.prideandpatriotism.org