Veterans Honored at Program Monday

Elgin’s heroes, its’ veterans who served our country faithfully dating back to World War II, marched together Monday morning as the community observed Veterans Day 2013.
The gymnasium at Elgin High School was nearly full of students from the community’s three schools, joined by adults from the area to remember and recognize the contributions made by so many to preserve our nation’s freedoms.
In a ceremony which lasted approximately one hour, patriotic words were spoken and sung, and an inspirational message was delivered by a former graduate of Pope John Central Catholic High School.
One could have heard a pin drop when the veterans, some dressed in their military uniforms, walked side by side into the gymnasium and took their seats in the front row. Each, having served his country honorably. As they walked in, they could see the faces of other local veterans, on a slide show, men and women, living and deceased, who have served in the military.
Elgin High School senior Brett Kinney welcomed everyone, noting how all present were in the gymnasium to pay special tribute.
Then, after the Elgin High School Band performed several patriotic tunes, choir members from both schools sang. Veterans were serenaded in song and verse, far different from the sounds of war they must have heard over and over years ago.
Then there were patriotic readings. First up was EHS senior Ivy Prater who read the poem “I Am A Veteran.”
“You may not know me the first time we meet,
I’m just another you see on the street.
But I am the reason you walk and breathe free.
I am the reason for your liberty,
I am a veteran,” the poem began.
Later, Lexi Heithoff and Whitney Walker, students from Pope John, together recited Red Skelton’s rendition of “The Pledge Of Allegiance.” Skelton, years ago, defined what each word meant. His rendition has become a national treasure which is now part of the Congressional Record.
Giving the Veterans Day address was John McNally. McNally is the Deputy Director of the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs. The department is tasked with advocating for Nebraska veterans and their dependents. The department administers state benefits, assists in obtaining federal benefits and operates the Nebraska Veterans Cemetery at Alliance.
He said there was no one place he would rather be than right here, right now in Elgin to observe the national holiday.
Saying returning to Elgin was a “bit of a homecoming,” McNally told the students he knew what it was like to sit in the bleachers and listen to someone talk. “I have more bleacher empathy than you know.”
After his opening remarks, McNally said Veterans Day was a “celebration of your service,” noting the community’s heartfelt appreciation for your sacrifice.
“Elgin should be very proud of its history of men and women who have served in the military,” he said.

For the complete story, see the print edition of The Elgin Review