Eastern Wyoming College honors veterans during Monday ceremony
TORRINGTON — Eastern Wyoming College honored the men and women who served their country during its Veterans Day program on Nov. 12 at the Fine Arts Auditorium.
Students from Torrington High School, Lingle-Fort Laramie, and Valley Christian Schools attended, in addition to community veterans. The program started with the presentation of colors by American Legion Post #5.
The featured speaker was Louis Russ, a retired U.S. Air Force major and 1970 EWC graduate. Before enlisting in 1976, Russ worked as a teacher, including two years in Hemingford. For the first four years, he maintained F-4 and F-16 fighters as a technician, until the Air Force decided it needed more officers. He was transferred across the country and spent a year in South Korea, and from 1989 to 1992 served as the aircraft maintenance officer for the Air Force Chief of Staff, the highest ranking general in the service.
Veterans Day, he said, especially in light of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, is a day to remember the reason why Americans serve in the military and the freedoms that service provides.
“It means you have the freedom to decide what kind of profession or life you’re going to lead,” he said. “We have the freedom to move throughout the United States of America to find a new job or a new place to live. We have the freedom of speech, of assembly, and to worship how we feel and how we believe in God.”
He highlighted the number of military personnel who have lost their lives in conflict since the end of World War I. “Six hundred and twenty-six thousand military personnel, men and women, have given their lives so that we can live in a free country,” he said.
Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso wrote letters for the event, highlighting the sacrifices of veterans for their country. Along with them, the EWC Master Chorus, under the direction of Aaron Bahmer, sang songs and led the audience in singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” It also included poetry readings: “They Did Their Share” by Joanna Fuchs, read by THS senior Quentin Meyer and “Freedom Is Not Free” by Kelly Strong, read L-FL students and brothers Noah and Gabriel Garcia, the sons of U.S. Navy Chief Felipe Garcia.
After the program, Russ said he was honored to speak at the event. “A lot of the guys I’m in the VFW with were sitting out there in the audience, and a lot of the American Legion guys and disabled veterans,” he said. “I felt really proud to represent all those guys.” The fact that he was speaking so soon after the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI made the event more significant, he added.