Herald and Journal, Nov. 12, 2001

School salutes veterans

By Lynda Jensen

Several hundred Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School students attended the Veterans Day program at the high school Wednesday.

The event included musical selections from the band and choirs, speeches, - and ended with all of the students shaking the hands of each veteran present, thanking them for their service.

The hand shaking caused at least one veteran to wipe aside a tear.

The custom was originally conceived of High School Principal Mike Day, who was presented with a flag for his dedication to veterans.

The Winsted American Legion Post 407 took its turn delivering the address this year, with the Howard Lake American Legion Post 145 present.

Dick Genty of the Winsted Legion recounted a number of stories, including how "Taps" came to be.

Genty also alluded to the story of a man in the Union Army who came upon the body of a Confederate soldier, who turned out to be his son. The son joined the Confederates without the father's knowledge.

Genty also went through what the symbolism of folding the flag meant.

Gary Wickum gave a speech about being part of the newly formed Sons of Veterans, which is an organization for those who were not in the service, but can honor those who were.

Wickum urged those present to honor and remember the service of veterans.

The audience included the seventh and eighth grades this year, which is something new.

Two choirs sang songs under the direction of Chris Starr, including a musical number giving new life to the "Flander's Field" poem.

The slow, steady notes of "Taps" echoed from the trumpet of band director Charlie Roux during his solo performance.

The background of Veterans Day:

In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, an armistice was signed. The "war to end all wars" was over.

In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation's highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe).

These memorial gestures all took place Nov. 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m..

Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar congressional action.

If the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was "the War to end all Wars," Nov. 11 might still be called Armistice Day.

But only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe.

Realizing that peace was equally preserved by veterans of WW II and Korea, Congress was requested to make this day an occasion to honor those who have served America in all wars. In 1954 President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day.

A law passed in 1968 changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.


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