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Aurelia students honor vets and heritage

Monday, November 21, 2005

By Dan Whitney, Correspondent

Aurelia students and a sizeable number of community members gathered in the Aurelia High School gymnasium for the annual Veterans' Day program, traditionally held at 11 a.m. on 11/11.

Standing in front of a very large American flag , Aurelia High School student Jenny Bowen welcomed the audience to the program . The American Legion presented the colors, and the High School Band played the "Star Spangled Banner". Following our national anthem, Bowen did a reading, asked the veterans present to stand, and thanked them on behalf of everyone.

She then introduced fellow student Chris Handy, who told the history of "Old Glory", the American flag. The band then played the rousing "Valley Forge March", before student Aaron Hinkeldey spoke of flag etiquette and the history of laws pertaining to this. The audience then stood and spoke the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

The high school choir sang the song "The Prayer", before students Allison Todd and Kelsey Johnson told the story of Veterans' Day , its origin as Armistice Day after WWI, and the change to its current designation in 1954.

The stirring "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was the next selection by the choir ,and was followed by a video produced by Bowen. Telling the story of America's wars (and 9/11/2001) with dramatic pictures and the music of Lee Greenwood ("God Bless the USA") and Toby Keith ("An American Soldier"), the piece was very moving , and very well done (as a side note, I was told that anyone who would like a DVD copy of this video may contact the school).

Jana Radke related the story of the song "Taps", and how it came to be played at military funerals as well as Memorial Day and Veterans' Day ceremonies. The audience then stood and observed a moment of silence before band director Jason Heeren played "Taps" , with an echo being played down the hallway from Heeren.

Veterans Jim Hultgren and Mike Frey then retired the colors, and student Jill Cougill invited American Legion members and their spouses to join the students for lunch in the school cafeteria. Legion members then led the way out of the gym.

As usual, the Aurelia High School Veterans' Day program was respectful and thought -provoking - a tribute to the veterans who have served this country with distinction.

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