Late war veteran inspires high school student in Prattville - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Late war veteran inspires high school student in Prattville

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - On this day at Prattville Christian Academy senior Jonathan Banks and his fellow classmates put aside AP English to concentrate on another assignment.

"Thank you for helping me make Valentine's. I really appreciate it," Banks told his class.

It's something maybe even Shakespeare would be proud of, expressing love and gratitude to a group of war veterans.

"I sponsor the Valentine's for Veterans program. We set up kits for classes that make them," said Banks.

For Jonathan Banks it all started with Dwaine McGriff, a former neighbor and Vietnam veteran who died some years back.

As of youngster Banks remembers being enthralled with McGriff's war stories.

"He changed me and showed me a lot of love and when he passed away, it made me want to share that love back to veterans," Banks said.

Jackie Horn felt the same way when she learned what Banks was doing and why.

"It's significant because we never stop to think about them," Horn said.

And so here we are.

While Banks is cutting out and designing his own Valentine's cards, the others are adding a little 'shine,' some sparkle to their cards and small posters. 

"We're using construction paper and all kinds of patriotic stickers," Banks said.

Banks will hand-deliver the gifts to war veterans during the annual Salute to the Veterans on Valentine's Day at the VA Hospital next Monday in Montgomery.

"It gives me a good feeling knowing I can give back to them," said said Banks.

Jonathan Banks tells WSFA 12 News he's delivered more than 2,000 cards and gifts over 11 years all because of Dwaine McGriff.

McGriff was badly injured in Vietnam. He lost his left leg and over the next 26 years, McGiff endured 47 major operations. He later contracted Hepatitis C from blood transfusions.

Dwaine McGriff died in 1999. He was 63.

With the help of his classmates Banks is going for a one-year record.

"This year we hope to do more than 420 cards," he said.

You could say Jonathan Banks is a textbook case of someone 'paying it forward,' a giving spirit, a tribute to a soldier who knew war but also understood love.

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