Central hosts Veterans Day ceremony

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Central’s Veterans Day ceremony guest speaker, navy veteran Ed Blume, delivered a speech talking about the sacrifice, honor and post-war problems faced by all veterans.

The Quilts of Valor recipients (from left to right) included Tim R. Koehn, David A. Koehn, Jerry Weber, Charles Morine, Carl Moser, Becky Reynolds Kann and Gary Williams. Quilts of Valor was founded in 2003 as a way to say “thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor in serving our nation.” They are awarded to service members or veterans who have been touched by war and, to date, there are over 10,000 volunteer members across 600 groups in all 50 states who have awarded more than 260,000 quilts to veterans. These quilts were handmade by members of the local Veterans Stitchers Quilts of Valor group.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

Central Community School hosted a Veterans Day ceremony this past week, in what Superintendent Nick Trenkamp described as a day to “honor and recognize those who served our country.” The event featured multiple performances by the Central High School concert band and choir and was planned, organized and led by the school’s National Honor Society students, all of whom took turns emceeing the occasion. 

It was an event marked by emotional performances, a moment of silence and acknowledgement of local veterans for their service and sacrifice. It was also memorable for the presentation of Quilts of Valor and the speech given by the guest speaker, Navy veteran Ed Blume. 

The Quilts of Valor (QOV), according to the organization, are “awarded to a service member or veteran who has been touched by war.” The quilt says unequivocally, “Thank you for your service and sacrifice in serving our nation.” 

The QOV were presented by Penny Blume representing the local Veterans Stitchers group, who said the quilts are their “way of thanking all vets.” She also noted that the quilts are typically given with a hug, but due to COVID-19, an elbow bump served as a replacement. 

Seven veterans were presented with a quilt: Becky Reynolds Kann (Army Reserves), David Koehn (Army), Tim Koehn (Army), Charles Morine (Army), Carl Moser (Army National Guard), Jerry Weber (Army) and Gary Williams (Army). 

Another program highlight was the guest speaker, Blume, who spoke of all veterans’ service and their willingness to die to defend the nation. Most notably, he spoke of the invisible threats facing all veterans and the high suicide rate among them. 

According to Blume’s speech, 20 vets per day commit suicide and, altogether, there is a 30 percent suicide rate among veterans. He called these needless deaths, and veterans’ organizations exist to offer a helping hand and an ear to listen. 

Blume emphasized how simply saying “thank you” to a vet could make all the difference, and noted the necessity of supporting Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in war. 

When it comes to war, Blume said, “war is never anything to celebrate, [but] peace is,” and that peace has been achieved through the sacrifice of veterans. 

Veterans, Blume said, “matter to America. Just as they matter to those liberated from tyranny, communism, fascism, slavery and terrorism,” to accentuate all they have accomplished and all they have achieved throughout history. 

Blume turned to quoting political philosopher John Stuart Mill to further express what war and being a veteran means. Mill wrote, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war is much worse…A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”

In closing, Blume said, “We remember the fallen…let us never forget those who are suffering.” 

When it comes to the purpose of the event, Trenkamp said, “It is a very special event that connects our students with other generations.” Principal Aaron Reinhart said it’s an “event that serves the purpose of recognition and education of this significant moment in our history.” 

Reinhart added, “I sincerely hope students leave an event like that understanding that they don’t understand what it was like to experience what those veterans experienced. I hope they walk outside that day, with their phone down and music off, and take a moment to soak up the fresh air, sunlight and blue sky while they reflect on the freedom that they have. I hope that reflection takes them deeper and they look up on a clear night and gaze at the stars, realizing those are the same stars every veteran looked at while they were praying to make it out alive. And I hope they use all of that to find purpose in their lives and work together as a team, like our veterans did, to make this country a better place for the next generation.”

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