Honoring those who served

Members of the New Prague Veterans Honor Guard march into the New Prague High School gym. (Patrick Fisher Photo)

"Thank you." That message was one stressed by many during Veterans Day programs around the New Prague area on Monday, Nov. 11.

"We appreciate the chance to say thank you and honor you," said New Prague High School principal Lonnie Seifert at the beginning of the school’s program. He addressed the many veterans attending the program and noted how people owed thanks to those who served from the Revolutionary War to the current conflict in the Middle East.

Senior Nick Hyde said that veterans deserved their thanks and to be honored for the sacrifices they made. They left their home and families and many gave the ultimate sacrifice.

PFC Alyssa Kanten delivered the speech for the main speaker, who was unable to attend due to the weather. She said that many answered the call to service after the attack on September 11. She noted how veterans were people who stepped forward and said send me. Kanten said that people could thank a veteran or they could become one.

Senior Ashley Axel recounted how she thanked a veteran for his service. "The look on his face and the tear in his eyes, it was then that I realized what Veterans Day truly was," she said. Axel added that people should let everyday be Veterans Day by thanking someone for their service.

Veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the Cuban crisis, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan were recognized.

Programs were also held at New Prague Middle School, Falcon Ridge, Raven Stream and Eagle View elementary schools. At Eagle View veteran Army Major Joe Sharkey asked students questions about the Armed Forces and provided prizes. Students were also recognized who have family members who are serving.

At Mala Strana, staff honored 22 residents who are veterans. They represented the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Cadet Nurse Corps. Bring a Veteran to School New Prague High School held its Bring a Veteran to School Day on Monday, Nov. 11, with 25 veterans participating. The program allowed veterans to discuss what it was like to serve and take questions from students. With 60 students listening, veterans Matt Breisler, Todd Anderson, Mike Wilson, Mark Schaus, Wayne Bakke and Tom Amundson related their service. Anderson talked about being stationed eight kilometers off of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea. He noted how North Korea would push the boundaries about every two weeks. He said that such actions would only get a little bit of coverage in the media once in a while.

When he had time off on weekends, he and friend would go off mountain biking to local villages in South Korea. They would see monuments from the Korean War.

The Vietnam veterans were asked what was their experience in coming home. Wilson said that some people shunned veterans, although he didn’t get that when he came home in 1967. Bakke said it was hard time and a low time for the military. Wilson remarked that President John Kennedy was the one who decided to go into Vietnam War. Wilson wondered if Kennedy had lived if things would have turned out differently.

The veterans were asked about reinstating the draft. Most agreed that a draft wasn’t needed, since there was so much technology, but compulsory service would allow people to serve the country for a brief time.

The veterans were also asked about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how it should be treated. They agreed it should be treated more and it should be treated like a person had lost a limb. Also, the military should listen more to families about it.