Community gathers to honor service of military Veterans

Vicki Hood/Guernsey Gazette

GUERNSEY – If you didn’t attend the program at Guernsey-Sunrise Schools last Friday, you missed some outstanding performances by our youngest citizens who joined them to say thank you to local Veterans. 

Hosted by the school, members of the Guernsey Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and their auxiliaries presented an hour-long program that recognized the service of past and present local military members and their families. 

As several drummers from the Guernsey-Sunrise Junior-Senior high band beat a steady cadence, members of the Guernsey VFW and American Legion brought in the national and state colors, accompanied by the flags of all the service branches, the Legion and the VFW.

Flag bearers included Walt Fink, Don Mack, Nick Schwab, Wes Reyher, Ed Delgado, Joe Norfolk, Ron Hughes, Jerry Wood and Louis Franzen. 

Following the posting of the colors, the band, under the direction of Nathan Butler, played the Star Spangled Banner. 

Stacia Cook’s kindergarten class, decked out in red, white and blue tie-dyed t-shirts they helped make themselves, took their places in a line at the front of the gym, placed hands over hearts and led those assembled in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The shirts have become an annual project done the week before the program and members of the VFW and auxiliary assist the students in making their shirts.

In his opening remarks, Guernsey VFW Post Commander Steve Keigley asked members of the branches of service and their families to stand and be recognized by the audience. 

Platte County School District #2 Superintendent Lisa Weigel welcomed everyone to the day’s program. 

Students from grades three through six, directed by music instructor Matt Hebbert and Lori Morgan, performed the song “Thank You Soldiers” composed by Michael and Angela Souders. As the students sang, a variety of photos depicting soldiers and patriotic scenes from across the country were broadcast on the video screens on each side of the gym. Their performance brought a solid round of applause from the audience. 

Commander Keigley then presented a short program on the history and symbolism of each flag carried by the honor guard. 

VFW Auxiliary President Pam Cain presented a short history on the Buddy Poppy program. Members of the auxiliary distributed Buddy Poppies at the door as community members entered the gym. 

The audience was then treated to an outstanding presentation of the Robert Smith arrangement of “America the Beautiful” by the school band, followed by a tribute to fallen Veterans with the somber playing of “Taps” by Nathan Beutler and Isaac Miller. 

The colors were retired by the flag bearers to conclude the program. 

Members of the community were invited to a day long free soup dinner/supper at the Guernsey VFW Post. Members of the auxiliary dished up bowls of ham and beans, chili, turkey and noodles, and vegetable soup along with desserts, to several hundred guests throughout the day.

The day’s activities were likely replicated across the nation Friday as the country observed the national holiday to honor military veterans living and deceased. Veterans Day is actually November 11 but due to the date falling on a Saturday, many observances were held Friday this year. Originally known as Armistice Day, the day of recognition was established by President Woodrow Wilson to commemorate the soldiers who fought in World War I. The date was chosen because the armistice for World War I was declared between the allied nations and Germany on the 11th day of the 11th month. It became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. It became known as Veterans Day in the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War. The first celebration using the term Veterans Day was held in Birmingham, Alabama in 1947.  

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