Veterans honored at Kennedy [UPDATED]Published 3:10pm Thursday, November 11, 2010 Updated 10:41am Friday, November 12, 2010
“These people have given up jobs, family, health and welfare all in the name of service, and today is the day we should recognize the leaps and the risks and sacrifice that these women and men in the armed forces make.”
Those are the words of veteran and former VFW Commander Jay Cichosz, who spoke Thursday to a packed auditorium of students, veterans and other community members at Kennedy Secondary School’s Veterans Day program.
Cichosz, who served in the U.S. Army for three years and spent several months in Somalia, spoke of his own experience in the armed forces and what it means to be a veteran.
Veterans, he said, are people who, like the students sitting in the audience, were sitting in school one day wondering what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.
“A veteran, whatever the age, is not a relic, nor a statue,” Cichosz said. “Veterans are people … who made a conscious choice to serve and sacrifice for all of us. Based on the choices they made, they deserve respect and reverence.”
He said he met and became friends with people from all over the country and from all walks of life, and learned more about people from his years in service than he has during the years after.
Now 38, he said he was nervous when he joined local VFW Post 612 because of his age, but in the end, it made no difference, because veterans share experiences that unite them.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re 28 or if you’re 78, or whether you were part of D-Day or whether you were deployed to Somalia for a few short months,” he said. “A veteran is a veteran — you are on the same team. You each took a great leap at some point in time to be part of something bigger to serve your country. I can now share stories of my battles and my wounds. We support each other and I consider us to be comrades.”
After High School Principal Dean Monke introduced the program, the Color Guard of the VFW Post 612 posted the colors, and the school wind ensemble, directed by Jim Iverson, performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The ensemble also performed an “Armed Forces Salute,” a medley of the anthems of each of the armed forces. Veterans in the audience from the Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Airforce and Navy stood to applause during their respective anthem.
“Our nation will always be grateful for the noble sacrifices made by these veterans,” Monke said. “We can never fully repay them, but we can honor and respect them for their service.”
The senior high bel canto and a cappella choirs, directed by Michelle Danielson, sang “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor” and “Battle Hmyn of the Republic.”
VFW members folded the American flag as VFW Commander Lynette Cox explained the significance of each fold, followed by dance performances by The Edge Force Dance Company and the Fergus Falls School of Dance.
No matter when or where a veteran served, Cichosz said, the men and women who served in the armed forces deserve honor and recognition.
“The veterans of this town, of our state, and of our country,” he said, “some of them have gone on, some of them have died in battle, but all have sacrificed.”