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Celebrations salute veterans

Perham VFW Post 4020 Commander Gary Menz, along with other VFW members, saluted the flag during a Veterans Day program at Perham High School on Monday. Marie Nitke/FOCUS1 / 3
Kindergarten students colored heart-shaped American flags to decorate the hallway before the Veterans Day program at the school. The kindergarteners are learning to respect the flag and understand the meaning of the pledge of allegiance. Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS 2 / 3
Members of the New York Mills VFW post 3289 and Auxiliary conducted a program in the school auditorium for all stu-dents. From left: Gerry Anderson, Albert Huwe Jr., Amanda Weller and Dale Frost. Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS3 / 3

Perham program emphasizes service above self

Who are veterans?

According to Dr. Bill Rose, a Perham resident and Vietnam veteran, “They’re just plain people” like anyone else. They’re our friends and neighbors and family members. Most of them couldn’t be picked out in a crowd.

What did they do?

“They did their job,” said Rose. “Plain and simple.” Vietnam veteran Dr. Bill Rose was the guest speaker at Perham's Veterans Day program. Marie Nitke/FOCUS

And why is that important?

“Because the only way you accomplish something is by being a team.”

And, finally, why is this group so special?

“It’s called service. These are people who served. What is service? Service is what you do for others.”

Rose was the special guest speaker at Monday’s Veterans Day program at the Perham High School auditorium.

He said the greatest lesson he learned while in the Marine Corps was to put others before himself.

In combat, “The most important person in the world is the one standing next to you,” he said. “It’s not you.”

This philosophy saved his life once, when a pilot considered Rose “the most important person in the world,” and risked his own neck to rescue him from a chaotic and dangerous situation.

Veterans Day is a day to remember heroic individuals like that pilot. Celebrated every year on November 11, it’s a day designated to celebrate and honor America’s veterans “for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good,” as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs puts it.

In addition to Rose’s speech, the Veterans Day program included a Presentation of the Colors by Perham VFW Post 4020 members, a folding of the flag ceremony and a symbolic setting of an empty table (to represent servicemen and women who are missing in action or prisoners of war) led by the VFW Auxiliary. Patriotic music was provided by the PHS Band.

Throughout the program, M-State Public Speaking students took turns reading the poems, “The Flag,” “What is a Veteran?” and “He Said He Had a Friend,” as well as President Barack Obama’s Veterans Day Proclamation.

Another highlight of the program was a reading of student Maria Lorenson’s winning Voice of Democracy essay, which details, “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.”

In a nutshell, the reason Lorenson is optimistic boils down to one thing: today’s youth. The kids she knows and sees in her life in Perham, she said, are good people who are involved in the community and friendly to one another. They’re not afraid of new things and they like to give back.

“The youth of our nation embrace their differences and impact lives,” she said.

Knowing the nation will be in their hands one day, Lorenson said, gives her confidence that the future will be bright.

The Veterans Day program was led by Masters of Ceremonies C.J. Mulcahy and Christian Weis.

NY Mills program an expression of thanks

Members of the New York Mills VFW Post 3289 and Ladies Auxiliary, along with the school’s band and choir, took part in a Veterans Day program on Monday.

The chorus of a song the choir sang matched the program’s tone: “Thank you, oh thank you, men and women brave and strong – to those who serve so gallantly we sing this grateful song.”

During the elementary school program, Maya Radniecki and Zander Puckett were announced as the winners of the VFW’s “Patriotism” coloring contest.

The younger students were also given a flag-folding demonstration. Some students tried to follow along on their own smaller flags, with varying results.

At the high school program, winners of the “Patriot’s Pen” essay contest were announced. Jonas Baune, Sierra Gerber, Alexandra Hendrickx and Kobe Weller were the top four out of the 65 essays which were submitted.

Slade Kangas, Summer Weller and Heather Weller were introduced as the winners of the “Voice of Democracy” contest.

“America is the land of the free because of the brave,” said Heather Weller in her first-place entry. She will advance to the district competition.

Two New York Mills high school students, Zach Frost and Sam Salo, were also recognized for volunteering their time to play taps for local military funerals.

Marie Nitke,

Elizabeth Huwe,