The last time Fort Benning’s commander Maj. Gen. Michael Ferriter entered Columbus High School, he was the parent of three teenagers, busy with classes, cross country meets and soccer practices.
He came back to the school Tuesday morning to speak with students about Veterans Day and showing support for their classmates from military families.
“There’s a saying among the military community: Those who wait also serve,” Ferriter said. “You show support for soldiers when you show support for the family.”
Ferriter, who grew up in an Army family, said he moved 17 times before he was 18 years old; he has also moved several times with his own family, serving three tours at Fort Benning.
“The Army continued to bring me back to Fort Benning and the Columbus area,” Ferriter said.
Three of his four children attended Columbus High.
“While they were here you heard they ran cross country and played soccer. Columbus High set them on the path to success,” he said. “Columbus High is a team — one that lives and demonstrates leadership.”
Ferriter said the school and the community are also very supportive of soldiers and their families who are new to the area. “You welcome this rotation of people into your schools, that’s a good thing,” he said.
Columbus High principal Judy Whitt also reminded students of the 4,300 new students expected to come to Muscogee County Schools after the Army relocates the Armor School from Fort Knox, Ky., to Fort Benning. “We do want to be welcome,” Whitt said. “We do want to open our arms to them.”
Columbus High junior Belinda Ence said she thought the general’s message was inspiring.
“He talked a lot about how Columbus High works with the community,” she said. “It’s true, we do.”
Jeffrey Schwing, a junior and an ROTC cadet, said he thought the general’s speech was especially beneficial to the cadets.
“It will definitely help the ROTC cadets at the school as future leaders,” he said.
Schwing said he also liked the general’s final message: “Work hard, never quit.”