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Remembering, honoring

Connie Vandermay/FOCUS The NY Mills High School audience was completely silent during a Color Guard ceremony at the Veterans Day program last Friday.1 / 4
Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Elementary students place cards they made for veterans into a box during the Veterans Day program on Friday. Heather Weller delivered the cards to the Fergus Falls and Fargo veterans homes.2 / 4
The Perham High School Swing Choir sings The National Anthem.3 / 4
Connie Vandermay/FOCUS The NY Mills High School Band performed the "Star Spangled Banner" and other patriotic tunes during the Veterans Day program at the school.4 / 4


The Perham VFW, Womens Auxiliary, high school students and staff and other community members held a moving Veterans Day ceremony in the high school auditorium Friday.

After a presentation of the colors by VFW members, students read commemorative poems and essays, sang the national anthem, and played a selection of patriotic songs. The women of the Auxiliary gave a symbolic presentation in remembrance of POW/MIA soldiers, and VFW members led a Folding of the Flag ceremony.

Guest speaker Sarah Benson, an Iraq War veteran and Perham High School's current counselor, said, "To this day, my best friends are those I served with overseas. I gained a lot through my time in the service."

Yet for her and other members of the military, much has also been sacrificed.

"It's so important to know exactly what we honor our veterans for," Benson said, demonstrating her point through a slideshow featuring quotes by her military comrades. In it, they reveal their greatest personal sacrifices as soldiers.

For example, one soldier said he'd lost his arm at war; another missed the birth of his daughter. Another, who can no longer stand the sound of guns, lost his love of deer hunting. Still other friends of Benson's never made it home at all.

"What's the best way to honor them?" Benson asked the audience. "To live life well" and to remember how much our soldiers would love to have the chance to deal with the "trivial things" that we all complain about from day to day.

The ceremony concluded with the playing of TAPS and a Retiring of the Colors.

New York Mills

The Charles D. Center VFW Post 3289 Ladies Auxiliary put on two age-appropriate Veterans Day programs last Friday morning at the NY Mills School. They also presented an afternoon program at the Elders' Home and a banquet and free dinner for veterans at the VFW that evening.

Auxiliary President, Amanda Weller, wanted to provide many opportunities for the community to learn the meaning of Veterans Day as well as honor those who have served the United States.

Weller welcomed the audience during an opening speech: "Today we celebrate veterans for keeping this nation 'the land of the free and the home of the brave.'"

The programs were modified slightly per age group, but consisted of a short skit, poems and speeches sharing the history of Veterans Day. Patriotic music was played, with the high school band performing and the audience singing, "America the Beautiful."

An unexpected 'flash mob performance' from the junior and senior high choir members also took place. One by one, singers unexpectedly stood up from their seats in the audience to join in the song, "Thank Your Soldiers," by Michael and Angela Souders.

The VFW Color Guard presented the flags, and a moment of silence was taken to honor those who have served.