By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — A large crowd braved high winds and low temperatures Monday morning, Nov. 11, coming together at Mark Branch Fieldhouse to honor and recognize area veterans on the 100thanniversary of Veterans Day.
Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, and was first held in 1919, commemorating the end of WWI, which ended the 11thhour of the 11thday of the 11thmonth of 1918. Now known as Veterans Day, it is recognized to show honor to veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, including Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army and Coast Guard.
“It’s good to see the community support the veteran so much,” said U.S. Representative John Pfeiffer, who served in the Marine Corp. from 2009-2014.
The program was sponsored by the Newkirk Go-Getters 4-H club, following a special project they began in the spring and concluded at the end of the summer. Working with the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, the met with 57 veterans across all branches, at Newkirk Public Library, cataloguing their experiences, especially as older military veterans are passing on.
“I felt like we did a lot to help the veterans, and that we did a good job. We learned a lot form them, like how to be responsible, and how it was in the war,” said member Jacob Merhoff.
The event began at 9:30 a.m., but community members were filing through the doors before 9, where they were greeted by members of the FFA and National Honor Society, who showed the veterans to their reserved seats in the middle of the floor. The U.S. Army presented the colors, followed by the National Anthem by the school band. The high school, middle school and fifth grade choirs sang each branch’s song, and veterans in each respective branch stood and were recognized by the audience. Pfeiffer was the speaker, but it wasn’t Pfeiffer that the veterans were there to see, but a special video created by 4-H members and taken from the videos the had made the previous months.
The veterans all were thankful for the efforts of the students who put the on the program.
“I thought it was super. I commend the 4-H kids in the work of interviewing everybody and then to actually make it available to the public, that is exception. It needs to be shared,” said Scott Dutton, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1967-1971.
Pfeiffer added, “The job the 4-Hers did was really good. It shows how much the veterans have to offer, and how appreciated they are in the community.”
The students themselves are honored to have participated in the project, and have learned much from the veterans, as well.
“I loved seeing some of the stories, and being able to talk about it,” said Mariana Horinek. “If we don’t support them, then what are we doing?”
Allison Schneeberger added, “I thought it was excellent. I think it definitely opened the eyes of some of our classmates.”
Ultimately, everyone walked away from the event on a positive note. For the veterans, it was knowing that they were appreciated, especially by the younger generations. For the children, it was learning about the sacrifice, and growing deeper in their support.
“This is to show support to our local veterans, and give our students some insight on why the day is so important,” said organizer Denys Mayse. “I think it gives them an insight into lots of aspects of military service, that maybe they didn’t know before.”