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It is an outstanding program, from the music to the guest speaker to the National Guard Honor and Color Guards that participate in the program. The addition of the flag folding demonstration and the National Guard soldiers who take part in recognizing those veterans who have died in the past year adds an unmatched degree of professionalism.
More importantly, what is said and displayed in word, song and action sends a powerful message to our youth. In her keynote address on Monday, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson directed some of her first comments to the students in attendance. And, yes, every student from kindergarten through 12th grade attend the program.
Said Swanson: "To all the kids: this is a fantastic tradition that you and your school are part of. Many schools don't have a tradition like this. Yours does. And this is a tradition that you're going to remember and appreciate for the rest of your lives. Every Veterans Day when you're older, you're going to remember how you celebrated and learned about Veterans Day right here in this school."
No truer words were ever spoken.
Make no mistake, the program is enhanced by the youth who play and sing in it, but kudos to school administration who recognize that honoring our veterans each Nov. 11 is a grand teaching opportunity. Moreover, for those students who choose to leave Windom to pursue other opportunities, they are likely to find that the Veterans Day observance in their hometown was unlike any they'll find elsewhere.
Swanson is spot-on with her assessment-our students will remember and appreciate this tradition and will take pause to remember our veterans.
Model for others:
This was the 28th year the local American Legion has presented a Veterans Day program. Five years ago, among those in attendance were Harley and Miriam Behrens of George, Iowa. The Behrenses attended the program to see their granddaughter Megan Luitjens, the Girls State representative from Windom that year and daughter of Joel and Dawn Luitjens, participate in the program. They were so moved and awed by the entire program that they went back to their community to start such a program in George. And, for the past five years, the George-Little Rock School District has held a similar Veterans Day observance, patterned after Windom's program.
The Behrenses have not missed any of those programs in their community until this year. They were back at the Windom Veterans Day program again to watch their grandson, Nathan Luitjens, participate in this year's observance. Nathan was the Windom American Legion Boys State representative this year.