Reflections on Veterans Day
For our Veterans Day program this year the RCW Student Council planned a special video presentation honoring our local WWII Veterans from Danube. Mr. Ordell Jakel, who served stateside in Virginia, and Mr. Ray Ferguson, who served across seas and was also on Omaha Beach 70 years ago this past June were our two guests of honor. “Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day” became our theme.
As advisor to a group of five fantastic young women, I was privileged to head this project by setting up fieldtrips for interview times, having the girls prepare questions to ask these gentlemen, and spending time working with them on putting together a plan on how to tell the story of D-Day that would be educational as well as entertaining. Through many hours of research, we were able to find documented historic events and accounts, and we asked the male teachers of RCW to lend their voices as part of the narrations to our video. My troops and I went to work diligently and what started as a simple interview idea turned into a very rewarding short documentary editing project.
The word was out. The Danube Senior Citizens group sent out phone trees and five different messages were sent from radio stations inviting people to this event. Despite threatening weather many came, including a newswoman from RENCO Publishing. Family and friends of the guests of honor were present, and students in grades 6-12 were assembled in their seats along with faculty, staff and community members.
Both Danube and Renville Legion Members were seated at what we fondly call “The Table of Honor” which was decorated with festive tablecloths, nuts, candy, water bottles, cake and coffee. The local Cub Scout Pack 321 opened the program by presenting the Colors, and the RCW band played the National Anthem. I gave my opening remarks, and then came the moment we were all waiting for. It was time to show the video. Lights came down, the projector switch was turned on, and…the video didn’t work. And when it was tried again, it still didn’t work. What was meant to be a special presentation by my Veterans Team was nearing a disaster, and the ship was sinking fast.
When good intentions go bad, it is easy to think about the bad. But what I want to share with all of you is the good that came out of this day. First and foremost, Ordell and Ray were still honored. It might not have been in the way we wanted it to be, but there was not a person in the room who did not know who they were or what they had done for their country. Students and community members took time out of their day to give respect to those who serve and have served our country, which is the true purpose of Veterans Day.
These gentleman who have faced much worse situations than my team and I experienced that day showed their appreciation by giving us hugs and telling us how thankful they were that we tried. Community members and Veterans enjoyed a piece of cake afterwards, and The Senior Citizen group is already clearing their schedules so they are ready for the next announced showing. Instead of turning away and throwing hands up in despair and disappointment, the room was filled with love and support.
When things go wrong for us we all have the instinct to fight or flight, but in times of despair we need to remember that we are there for each other. What started as a day to serve and honor our Veterans magnified into a day of bringing our Veterans, students and community members together to laugh, cry, care and show support for each other. Success isn’t always about books and tests. It is about the ability to carry on the values our servicemen have fought for us to have.
In my closing remarks for the Veterans Day program (which came much quicker into the program than I had anticipated) I quoted President Obama when he recognized the 70th Anniversary of D-Day this past June. He stated,
"We are on this Earth for only a moment in time. And fewer of us have parents and grandparents to tell us about what the Veterans of D-Day did here 70 years ago…So we have to tell their stories for them. We have to do our best to uphold in our own lives the values that they were prepared to die for. We have to honor those who carry forward that legacy, recognizing that people cannot live in freedom unless free people are prepared to die for it. May God bless our Veterans and all who served with them, including those who rest in eternal peace. And may God bless all who serve today for the peace and security of the world. May God bless the people of France. And may God bless our United States of America."
Stay tuned for when and how you can view the documentary the RCW Student Council has prepared, so that you too can hear the stories our Veterans shared in their interviews and be able to tell them to others when they no longer can. As stated by Oliver P. Smith, a highly decorated WWII and Korean Veteran, “We are not retreating! We are just advancing in a different direction.”
Mrs. Amy Kramin
RCW School Success Coordinator
Co-Advisor for Student Council
Veterans Day 2015
This year recognizes the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. Our program will feature the book Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam by Walter Dean Meyers. Come listen as Student Council members interpret this book with images and sounds. Also featured on our program this year will be members of the Chapter 290 Vietnam Veterans of America, stationed in St. Cloud, MN.
The "Table of Honor" will be set up for our local Veterans, and Student Council members will serve cake and coffee after the program to the Veterans and our guests.
Special music will be provided by the RCW Band, and Mason Urness will play taps at the end of the program. We hope to see you there!
Our Veterans Day program will be held on Wednesday, November 11th at 9:00 a.m. in the the small gymnasium here at RCW.