Veterans Day observed by Guernsey area residents

Veteran's Day was observed at GSHS.

GUERNSEY—It was a drum beat processional with Veterans carrying flags led by Old Glory; a kindergarten class leading the Pledge of Allegiance, patriotic music played by the Guernsey-Sunrise band and sung by the Viking Choir, the fourth grade class demonstrating proper folding of the U. S. flag and well-deserved applause to show appreciation for Veterans young and old; active and retired.  It was last Friday when Americans celebrated a day set aside to recognize the sacrifices made by men and women who more than self, their country love.  It was a reminder to all that freedom is not free.

Area residents gathered in the Guernsey-Sunrise gymnasium for the annual Veterans Day honors program, a joint venture put on by the local Veterans groups and the school. 

After the flag processional, the Guernsey-Sunrise senior-junior high band opened with the national anthem and performed “America the Beautiful” later in the program.

Platte County School District #2 Superintendent Mike Beard welcomed those in attendance and recognized Veterans and their families in the crowd by having them stand. 

One of the highlights of the morning was the performance of a song by the Guernsey-Sunrise Choir, entitled “Letters for a Soldier”, written by their own director and teacher, Matt Hebbert.  Hebbert said he wrote the song some years ago but recently did a minor rework on it for Friday’s event.  Hebbert said the verses represent what a soldier is to different people.  (The lyrics are published at the end of this article.) 

VFW Post 4471 Commander Steve Keigley conducted the program that also included words from VFW Post 4471 Auxiliary President Pam Cain who spoke about the group and what their role is in the community.  She aptly pointed out that nobody works for the VFW or the auxiliary—all are volunteers. 

As Keigley read what each fold stands for, members of the fourth grade classes, split into groups of three around the gymnasium, demonstrated the proper folding of a United States flag.

Band director Nathan Beutler played “Taps” as the colors were retired by the flag bearers.

Following the close of the ceremony, the public was also invited to stay and watch a screening of the movie “Taking Chance”, based on the recollections of U.S. Marine Lt. Col Michael Strobl, a real person, who accompanied the remains of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, a Marine fatally wounded by gunfire near Baghdad during the Iraq War, from Dover Air Force Base to Dubois, Wyoming in April 2004. He attended both Phelps's funeral and his memorial service, and wrote an essay about the entire experience, the emotions he felt and the people he met.

VFW Post 4471 opened their doors for the remainder of the day, serving a free soup meal to Veterans, their families and members of the community.

Veterans Day originated on the first anniversary of the 1918 armistice that ended World War I.  It was further commemorated in 1921 with the burial of the an unknown soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.  November 11 became an official national holiday in the United States in 1938.  In 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor those who had served in all U.S. wars. Ceremonies are held each year at the Tomb of the Unknown, and floral tributes are placed on the graves of service men and women and at memorials throughout the country. Naturalization ceremonies have come to be an important part of the day’s activities.  Poppies have long been associated with World War I memorials through the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, and in several countries paper poppies are sold to raise money for the support of veterans and are worn in the lapel as a sign of remembrance.

Following are the lyrics to the song written by Guernsey-Sunrise music teacher Matt Hebbert and performed at this year’s Veterans Day program at the school.


“Letters for a Soldier”

By Matt Hebbert


My son, my soldier son

I know that you’re a man

My son, my soldier son

Be as safe as you can

See today my pride in you is so great, it is shining through.

I think you know we never run

My soldier son.


My child, my soldier child

My heart cries for you

My child, my soldier child

I think I always knew

That one day you’d do what’s right and for us all you’d stand and fight

So every day, I’ll kneel and pray for you my child

My soldier child.


My friend, my soldier friend

A hero to me

My friend, my soldier friend

You stand for liberty and you’ll never be alone

Till the day you come back home

I know you’re brave

Dear God please save

My soldier friend.


My love, my soldier love

My arms ache for you

My love, my soldier love

I’ll always be true

I miss you more than I can bear

Till the day you’re here, not there

You are a gift from God above

My soldier love.


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