By Clay Coleman
VANDALIA—Local veterans were honored Friday, Nov. 8, at Van-Far High School in Vandalia in recognition for their service in the U.S. armed forces and to celebrate Veterans Day.
Van-Far’s National Honor Society students hosted the event and provided escorts to the veterans as they were served breakfast in the school’s cafeteria, then led to the gymnasium where the school body assembled to listen to a morning of speeches, poetry, and patriotic music.
“This is our way of honoring veterans,” said Teresa Winders, NHS sponsor, and school faculty member. “My Dad was Navy for eight years. When you grow up military, it becomes a part of you. If this makes them feel honored, then I’m happy.”
With music provided by the Van-Far Chiefs Band and the Junior and Senior High School Choir, NHS President Colin Wilburn, started the morning’s activities by welcoming the veterans and asking those assembled to rise for the presentation of the colors, led by the Missouri Department of Corrections Central Regional Honor Guard.
Following the National Anthem, each veteran was asked to rise as their branch of military service anthem played, then remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Trevor Winders, NHS vice president.
Next, Joy Davis, from the VFW Post 2173 Auxillary, recited the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by John McCrae. Davis reminded the students about honoring the fallen, by remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and the significance of the Buddy Poppies to the veteran community.
Guest speaker and Vandalia resident, Jason Dickerman, recounted his experiences as a nuclear-trained electricians mate onboard the attack submarine USS Honolulu. Dickerman reflected on his life as a young seamen.
“Remember the kids and spouses we say goodbye to,” he said.
Van-Far student Sharon Baur, accompanied by guitarist, Austin Chastain, serenaded the veterans with Toby Keith’s 9/11 song, “American Soldier,” while a slide show featuring photos of area veterans from their time in the military and what they look like now, was shown in the background.
Superintendent of Schools Tony DeGrave closed the day’s activities by telling the students they didn’t have to look very far to find heroes.
“Every day, we walk through our lives looking for someone to look up to, a hero. These veterans who sit here gave up their time, they sacrificed, for the privileges and freedoms we have today.”
For more photos from the celebration, see Page 7.