By Dennis Morgan
Patriotism was on full display Monday morning as the annual Veterans Day Program was held at Elgin High School.
On the 11th day of the 11th month, as the clock approached 11 a.m., the gym began to fill. Youngsters young enough not to know how veterans have served, to teenagers understanding they could be called upon to serve as veterans served, to adults (mothers and fathers, sons and daughters) each understanding freedom is not free, they all came to be part of a patriotic program celebrating service to our nation in times of peace and war.
There was patriotic music performed by band students, later a choir sang “Song for Unsung Hero.”
More than music, the spoken word captured the moment. A poem was read by PJCC senior Conor Ramold, an essay was shared by Marissa Preister, a letter read by EHS senior Adam Dreger as well as recognition by Araceli Palmer of all veterans present, expressed the importance of this day.
But it was the words of U.S. Army veteran and PJCC graduate Beau Heithoff, as guest speaker, which made everyone who was listening, realize how war can change a life.
Heithoff used his time behind the podium to share the message that many who come home from war struggle to fit in.
National statistics, he said, show more than 120 persons take their own life each day in the U.S.
Of that number are 22 military men and women who commit suicide.
Saying those numbers are akin to an epidemic, Heithoff asked all to reach out to those in need of assistance. Something as simple as a phone call can prevent a suicide.
Heithoff received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech.
Students were presented small American flags when they entered the gymnasium. The flags were given by Jim Fehringer to the Legion some time ago.
Legion members then decided to hand them out to students as a way to remember Veterans Day 2019.
Speaking of flags, the Elgin VFW Auxiliary awarded two flags, one each to seniors from our two high schools. Cade Heithoff (EPS) and Austin Bauer (PJCC) were the flag recipients from the drawing conducted by Julie Dwyer and Juan Hoefer.
“Taps” performed by Olivia LIndgren and Keyera Eisenhauer closed the program.
Afterwards, veterans were treated to a free lunch at the Elgin Community Center, courtesy of Invenergy. Employees of Invenergy helped serve the meal.
By Dennis Morgan