Try 1 month for 99¢

Columbus and Fall River schools honored Veterans Day with programs Nov. 9 and 12.

This year’s Veterans Day was especially significant, marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Columbus held its salute to veterans at the high school gymnasium. Lt. Colonel Douglas Moore of the Wisconsin Army National Guard spoke to a large crowd of intrigued students. Moore’s military experience is unique. Unlike many who join the military, Moore wasn’t fresh out of high school or college when he enlisted. Moore took the leap at age 32. He knew family who had served and felt the urge to give back to his country.

Moore described veterans as “sheep dogs” who go into harm’s way to protect the rights of American citizens.

“They are the warriors,” Moore said.

While he’s served in dangerous situations, Moore also talked about the positive experiences of his military career.

“We’ve done some great humanitarian things … the building of schools, water purification, the good things people don’t seem to remember or think about when they think about what veterans do,” Moore said.

Moore discussed his deployments to the Middle East and the affect it had on his young family. During his first deployment, Moore left on his eldest daughter’s fifth birthday. When he returned home a year later, a younger daughter did not recognize him.

“That was pretty difficult,” Moore said. “During my second deployment, while the kids were older, that was still difficult knowing I wouldn’t see them for a year.”

During his deployment, Moore’s wife had to serve the role of both parents.

“She had to shovel the snow, take care of the kids, finish her master’s degree,” Moore said. “All I had to do was focus on my mission and worry about not getting blown up.”

Moore talked about the deep brotherhood and sisterhood shared by veterans. When he served in deadly combat zones, fellow soldiers were willing to take a bullet to ensure his safety.

“Veterans have a willingness and humility to sacrifice their lives all for the freedoms we all enjoy,” he said. “The most rewarding thing I’ve experienced is being part of the military family.”

Columbus High School Chorus performed the National Anthem and “Danny Boy,” while the band played “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Lt. Colonel Gina Federico provided the introduction of veterans and honor squad. There was also an honor guard salute and color guard ceremony.

High School Principal Jake Ekern hosted the program. Students in the AP History Class provided a Veterans Day presentation.

Fall River honors veterans

Fall River School held its program at the high school gymnasium Nov. 9.

Student Eliza Peetz presented the VFW Voice of Democracy Essay. On the heels of the midterm election, Peetz talked about the importance of voting and that many veterans died on the battlefields to preserve democratic rights, including free elections.

Peetz said it frustrated her to hear fellow students disregard the importance of elections. Peetz said voting allows voices to be heard.

“Voting isn’t something to just push aside and pretend it doesn’t matter,” Peetz said. “This toxic mindset of ‘my vote doesn’t matter’ has to go. And it has to go now.”

Peetz said voters age 30 and younger make up the largest voting block in the U.S. She said choices her generation makes can impact not only her age group, but future generations.

“Democracy is often taken for granted,” Peetz said. “It’s most successful when all voters take part in the election process. My vote, my voice, can and will change the world. Honor you veterans. Vote. Let your voices be heard.”

For her stellar essay, Fall River VFW member and School Board President Keith Miller presented Peetz with gifts from the VFW.

Presentation and retirement of the colors were presented by Colton Dykstra, Nicole Probst, Connor Dykstra and Joey Jones. Hailey Lange presented a reading of the history of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” while Maddie Sauer, Karlee Van Gysel, Kendra Meier, Davyn Braker, Jack Gould and Tanner Liebenthal led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Fall River High School Band, directed by Joe Matura, performed “Marches of the Armed Forces,” honoring all branches. The “Origins of Veterans Day” was read by Andrew Tavs and “Lest We Forget” was performed by James Swearinger. Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Miller (retired) presented the “Ragged Old Flag” address, which also featured a video tribute from Johnny Cash.

Elementary students sang versions of “Thank You to Our Veterans,” “Bless Our Troops,” and “I Love My Country.” “The Noble and the Brave,” a Veterans Day tribute, was read by Kailey Schroud, Clara Schultz, Jenna Schleicher, Clara Mickelson, Tommy Agnew, Elizabeth Brozek and Matthew Salzman.

Charli Kemper provided a thank you note to veterans and middle school students Joshua Dietzenbach and Mackenzie Krivanek read a special poem. A slideshow, featuring veteran family members of students and staff was shown, accompanied by music from Fall River Middle and High School combined choirs.

Follow Kevin Damask on Twitter @kdamask or contact him at 608-963-7323.