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Southport students honor Hoosier heroes ahead of Veterans Day

SOUTHPORT, Ind. – As the nation prepares to observe Veterans Day this Sunday, Perry Township Schools are recognizing our service men and women all this week. FOX59 was there Thursday afternoon as the students at Southport Middle school honored our Hoosier heroes.

"For me it was really emotional,” said 8th grader Sam Brookshire. “I have a few relatives that were in the service and I would consider a future in that, so it means a lot to me to see everyone in the school come together.”

Preparation for the Veterans Day program was a history lesson these students were proud to learn and show, from the orchestra's performance of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," to the choir singing "Land of the Free."

The special moment for the students was the keynote address from a man who carried on a legacy of serving our country, Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Charles McDaniel Jr.

"And I think this is an incredibly important age group to let them start understanding the importance of things like freedom, serving in the military and what it might cost," McDaniel said.

McDaniel knows that cost personally. His father, Master Sergeant Charles McDaniel Sr., was finally returned home after six decades. His dog tag was the only item found when North Korea recently returned 55 boxes of remains from American servicemen who fought in the Korean War.

It’s a piece of a man he barely remembers, but one that led him to share his journey with the next generation.

"After 68 years to be able to find your parent that you've just not known anything about and get that piece of information and history that's kind of cool to me," Brookshire said.

McDaniel's family held a memorial service for his father last month. That’s where he met a man who served with his father and the two plan to have coffee soon so he can learn more about his father’s time in the Korean War.