Mitchell students honor 66 veterans during annual ceremony
MITCHELL — Students at Mitchell Public Schools invited the public to honor the men and women who served or are serving our country during the annual Veterans Day program Friday morning.
Students decorated the gym with patriotic artwork and performed songs to show their appreciation as veterans and their guests were seated on the gymnasium floor.
As veterans arrived, they signed their names under the military branch they served in, with 66 veterans present representing the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, National Guard and Coast Guard. There was also a veterans display in the hallway, featuring photos and memorabilia of local veterans.
“Today is our day to say thank you to all American veterans and to let them know that we appreciate them for their service and honor them for their sacrifice,” said Mitchell High School Student Council President Kenzey Kanno.
After the presentation of the colors, those in attendance recited “The Pledge of Allegiance” and the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
The program featured musical numbers from students in elementary middle school and high school. Kindergarteners and first-graders sang “The Poppy Song;” fifth grade performed “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor;” second grade sang “The Brave;” the seventh and eighth grade choir performed “Veterans Day Hallelujah;” third grade sang “A Grateful Nation;” and fourth grade sang “On Veteran’s Day.”
Mitchell Elementary Principal Kirk Kuxhausen and Elementary Student Council Vice-President Landen Murphy introduced Benny Schneider, who received special recognition for his service.
“This year we would like to honor veteran Ben Schneider, who turned 100 in September,” said Kuxhausen. “Mr. Schneider is a member of the greatest generation. This generation of men and women are still responsible for all of the freedoms that we have today.”
After sharing information about Schneider’s service in the Army during World War II, Murphy presented him with a gift, thanking him for his service.
“I didn’t think I’d ever make it to 100,” said Schneider.
Navy Veteran Christina Hays served as the guest speaker during the program. Hays was born and raised in the Panhandle. She enlisted in the Navy in 2000 and was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, where she completed her training at the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Training Command. She also attended naval training in Ballston Spa, New York. For five years, she served aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), based out of Everett, Washington. Hays was a nuclear machinists mate and engineering laboratory technician. Following her deployment, she was the recruiter-in-charge at the Navy Recruiting Station in Meridian, Idaho. Upon her discharge from the Navy in 2012, Hays returned to Nebraska.
During her speech, Hays recognized the men and women who had served and are serving the country.
“No matter which branch you served in, what your job was, or how many years you served — or if you served during wartime or peace — raising your hand and dedicating yourself to the service is a brave and selfless act,” she said.
From this selflessness, soldiers have protected the liberties and freedoms of America, so Americans can sleep peacefully at night, Hays said.
“Over time, every enlistment or commission comes to an end but a veteran’s service has no expiration date,” said Hays. “We should be grateful not only for their time but for all they do to continue to give back to their country and its citizens long after they have gotten out of the military.”
The program concluded with the playing of “Taps” by 10th-graders Jaden Schumacher and Keanna Turnbull and the high school choir’s singing of “God Bless The U.S.A.”
World War II veteran Melvin Smith, of Gering, said, “It was a nice program.”
Smith has two grandsons who attend Mitchell Public Schools.
Following the programs, veterans and their families attended a dinner at the Mitchell Elementary cafeteria.
Veterans Day was first celebrated as Armistice Day on March 11, 1919. On Sunday, as we celebrate Veterans Day, the world will remember the soldiers who fought in the first world war 100 years ago. Termed “the war to end all wars,” World War I came to an end on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour.