Sartell Middle School did itself proud when, on Veterans Day (Nov. 11), it held a couple of events to honor veterans.
Area veterans, many of them parents or siblings of school students, were invited to the middle school to enjoy lunch with the students. The “Lunch with Veterans” program has become an annual tradition at the school, and this year, as in past years, it was a heartfelt success. It was so good to see veterans honored that way – by young people. A series of photographs on the lunch-room wall of area veterans showed dramatically how many wars they served in: World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Anyone who took part in the “Lunch with Veterans” surely had to be impressed by how warmly welcoming the lunch servers, staff and students were to the veterans who came for dinner. It was also impressive how kind, thoughtful, courteous all-around well behaved were all of the students. Their maturity level is outstanding.
It was also good to see a contingent of the Sartell American Legion 277, led by commander Flip Mastey, inside the front door, greeting visitors. That contingent played an important role in opening the “Salute to Veterans” that took place in the middle-school gymnasium right after all lunches had been served.
The ceremony for the veterans was so impressive because it underscored just how many veterans are part of our lives, including many of the teachers and staff in our schools. One of those veterans, Major David Peterson of Sartell, gave an inspirational talk to the students, encouraging them to do their best, practice hard, learn from mistakes and continue to keep forging ahead, no matter what. Peterson, who is a lawyer and a Sartell City Council member, shared his experiences of working in Iraq and then Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard. He also showed students slides of scenes from those two countries.
It was a pleasure to see State Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, former Sartell mayor, at the ceremony. O’Driscoll has worked for many years as an advocate and volunteer for causes on behalf of veterans. The current Sartell mayor, Joe Perske, gave an interesting historical background of how Veterans Day emerged from the Armistice Day following World War I.
And last but not least, it was a pleasure to hear the student band and choir perform a series of patriotic tunes with such enthusiasm.
It was a day to remember. Sartell Middle School – its teachers, staff and students – deserves our kudos for such an excellent tribute to our veterans.