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Colfax School District presents annual Veterans’ Day program

by Marlys Kruger

Students in all grade levels participated in the 2014 Veterans’ Day program held in the Colfax High School gym Nov. 11. Fifth grade students, under the direction of elementary principal Trevor Hovde presented speeches throughout the ceremony on topics such as “What the Flag Means to Me” along with an explanation of the  symbols of the American Flag, a brief history of the American Flag and what the POW-MIA flag stands for.

 Posting of the Colors was by a local National Guard Unit which included Colfax graduate Nathan Mayfield, current Colfax senior Tucker Teige and Menomonie resident Dylan Zdroik.

The guest speaker, Lt. Commander Scott Cramer, formerly of the U.S. Navy was introduced by District Administrator and retired Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Reserve, Bill Yingst.  Cramer is a 1981 graduate of Eau Claire North High School and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985. From there he reported to Naval Flight training in Pensacola, FL and became a Naval Helicopter Pilot in 1986. He deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1988 and 1999. He left active duty in 1992 but was affiliated with the U.S. Naval Reserve Force in response to the attacks on Sept. 11. Cramer’s awards include three Navy Achievement Medals, the 1,000 Hour Award for piloting the SH-2F Sea Sprite Helicopter, and numerous other personal and unit citations. He is married with two children and lives in Eau Claire.

“I was here speaking in 2002 although I don’t expect many of you to remember that,” Cramer said. “I always thought Veterans’ Day was just a day my dad got together with his veteran buddies for dinner and to talk about old times. But I realize after seeing a program like this that this is the “Ultimate Pep Rally” for veterans. For all the seniors in the high school, in seven months, it will be your turn to carry the torch and make sure that veterans are remembered and honored each year,” he added. (Two of those seniors are already members of the military including Teige and Jacob Klukas along with junior Cara Kollwitz).

A special plaque was presented to Yingst for the school district to be displayed in the building from MaryAnn Lippert, representing the Wisconsin Department of Administration. The plaque was signed by Governor Walker as a proclamation stating Nov. 11 was the official day to honor our veterans throughout the state. According to Yingst, Lippert who is the Director of the Northern Office Division of Intergovernmental Relations was at the school last summer to observe the damage done by the tornado. While here, Yingst mentioned the school held a very touching Veterans’ Day program every year and invited her to come. She accepted the invitation and whenever someone representing the Governor’s office attends a Veterans’ Day ceremony, they present an official plaque to the school or organization.

Patriotic songs were performed by the high school band and choir, the middle school band and choir and students in grades 1-5. After Yingst thanked and recognized the spouses of all members of the service, roses were handed out by the fifth grade students to members of the large audience who were a spouse or a mother of a veteran, or a member of the local  American Legion Auxiliary. Taps was played by high school students Abbie Greenwell and Brandon Cross and after the Colors were retired, apple pies made by Colfax Elementary and High School students were given to all veterans.

After the program, Cramer commented on the excellent job the school did honoring the veterans and teaching kids of all ages the importance of thanking veterans for their service.

“This is one of the best programs around the area and I wish more schools and cities would take the time to put together something like this every year,” he said.