Students, community honors veterans of past, present

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Community members and students in Osceola County paid tribute to area veterans from the past and present on Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.

GT Norman Elementary School in Reed City hosted an assembly in honor of local veterans who reside in the area and who are relatives of staff and students. A slideshow of photos, the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, a Korean War-themed Quiz Bowl and the reading of the children's book, "Sgt. Reckless," were featured during the event, as well as a candle lighting in honor of local veteran Brad Shilling, who died in the line of duty overseas.

"I think there's so much support here today," said DeAnna Goodman, principal at GT Norman. "Our kids are so supportive and so giving to this community of veterans."

The assembly also featured the surprise gift of two veterans' quilts, made with the help of GT Norman teachers and Vicky Bowman, which were presented to Dale Woods and Skip Kienitz. Following the event, veterans and their family members were invited to enjoy light refreshments in the cafeteria.

Lloyd Soper, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1971, attends the ceremony each year. He has two granddaughters who attend GT Norman.

"I feel very grateful and honored," he said about the school's Veterans Day program. "It's nice of them to honor the vets who did great things."

Ben Larson, who served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1964 in the U.S. Army, agreed.

"It's great, because the kids have to learn patriotism somewhere, and the event is a way to pass it on," Larson said. "To me, it was an honor to serve our country and that's what we were taught."

Goodman believes hosting a Veterans Day ceremony is a high priority, as it not only honors those who have served in the military, but also educates the students on why the day is one of significance.

"The veterans sacrifice so much for us and we feel it's important for kids to understand that," she added.

The Evart community also honored veterans during the holiday, with a short ceremony at Guyton Park. Members from the Evart Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7979 took part in a flag raising, gun salute and prayer, with both residents and students from Evart Middle School looking onward and showing respect.

"It's great to see the kids out here," said post commander Dave Brickey. "The feeling today is hard to explain, but it's good to see the comrades out here."