Vanderheiden Gives Veterans Day Address

Just as they had during their youth, soldiers again marched behind “The Stars and Stripes” as Veterans Day was observed in Elgin last week.

Veterans from the Korean War forward attended the hour-long program held at the Elgin High School gymnasium.

Veterans were honored with words and music, each in their own way fitting for the occasion where America recognizes the contributions made by armed forces personnel to protect the freedoms we hold so dear.

Guest speaker for this year’s observance was Joe Vanderheiden. A 26-year Navy veterans, he told students of the opportunities available to them in the military as long as they stay away from alcohol and drugs.

Perhaps the most emotional moment was when Vanderheiden asked veterans to stand as he read a poem which addressed how veterans “stood the watch” to protect and preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.

At the conclusion of his remarks, Vanderheiden received a standing ovation.

Earlier in the program, attendees were greeted by EHS student Elianne Heilhecker. PJCC senior Miles Schrage gave a patriotic reading written more than 70 years ago by Norbert Schmitt. It was a letter he sent home, detailing the struggles in New Guinea during World War II.

Later, patriotic readings were also done by PJCC junior Nicki Payne as well as EHS senior Kenny Bush. Payne shared the emotional toll endured by a nurse who served during the Vietnam War, how she became friends with a soldier who later died in battle, and of visiting the Vietnam War Memorial and seeing his name on the wall. Bush read a poem fitting the occasion.

The Elgin VFW Auxiliary gave away a flag during the program. The lucky winner was Bill Alderson.

The annual event is sponsored by the VFW and American Legion along with their Auxiliaries.