LINN — US Army Chaplain Capt. Fred Smith (retired) said at Friday’s Veterans Day Assembly at Linn that there may be veterans all around us, and some may be considering a …
LINN — US Army Chaplain Capt. Fred Smith (retired) said at Friday’s Veterans Day Assembly at Linn that there may be veterans all around us, and some may be considering a military life.
“Who is a veteran? I am a veteran,” said Smith, a 40-year United Methodist Church minister who was stationed in four states from 1985-94, served in Desert Storm, and had a year-long hardship tour in South Korea. “Who is a veteran? It could be your grandfather, grandmother, mom, dad, brother, sister, aunts and uncles, or it could be your friends. One day, it may be some of you.
“As you encounter veterans, stop and say thank you for your service,” Smith added. “It’s not always been a pleasure to be in the service. Sometimes in the history of our nation, there’s been a disagreement over the use of military force. One of the things I want to share is that if you disagree with the use of our military forces, you need to contact your Congressmen or your President, but don’t take it out on service members. We do not send ourselves into combat. We are sent by Congress and the President. We are given a mission, and we go do it. Appreciate the service your veterans have given.”
For those who may one day be a veteran, Smith said, “I encourage you to give it serious thought. It’s not a bad life. If you’re 18 or 19, it’s not such a bad life. You get lodging, food, uniform, and a salary.”
Smith added that he remembers driving his Honda Civic wagon and seeing a private driving a TransAm Firebird because he or she had a lot of money and didn’t have to worry about paying rent or buying food. “It’s a good life,” he added. “I wish I could have stayed in longer, but they passed me over for promotion to Major and offered me money to leave.”
After Smith’s speech, the Linn High School Band performed “American Folk Tune Adventure” by David Gorham.
Linn Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Freeburg American Legion Paul Hasenbeck Post #317 members presented the colors, followed by the gym echoing the voices of the LHS Chamber Choir performing the Star-Spangled Banner.
National Honor Society (NHS) Vice President Ramsie Tschappler led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance. NHS President Hope Wolfe expressed gratitude for the presence of veterans and their families. She then spoke on the history of Veterans’ Day, shedding light on the significance of the holiday and the importance of remembering and honoring those who have served in the military.
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day when a cease-fire was signed to end WWI on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. In 1938, Congress approved an act to make Nov. 11 a legal holiday. In 1945, following WWII, Armistice Day was expanded to include all veterans, not just those who had passed away. Congress approved a bill in 1954 renaming the holiday Veterans Day.
The LHS Choirs performed “Tribute to the Armed Services,” a musical homage resonating with the occasion’s spirit.
Linn VFW Commander Dan Schaefer and VFW Auxiliary member Jeri Ann Rackers announced Xavier Knoll, Evan Grellner, and Tristan Deeken were the top three Voice of Democracy winners. Patriot’s Pen Essay Competition winners were Emma Jaegers and Bria Kempker.
First and fourth-grade students performed “God Bless the USA.”
As the assembly neared its conclusion, the haunting strains of “Taps” filled the gymnasium, performed by Dakota Timbrook, Tauna Friend, and Reagan Klouzek. The moment was a somber reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by many in service to their country.
VFW and American Legion #317 members retired the flags to end the assembly.