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Tri County salutes veterans at Friday assembly

November 13, 2018

Don Shuts (left) and Allen Strouf of American Legion Post 258 in Swanton serve as Color Guard for the Tri County Veterans Day assembly on Friday. They were joined by Glen Pieper and Jon Osterhaus of the DeWitt American Legion Post 212.

Tri County students, staff and alumni, along with community members, participated in a Veterans Day assembly at the school, Friday afternoon.

Fred Meyer from American Legion Post 243 noted the Wall of the Fallen that had been in the Tri County Media Center during the week. The wall consists of posters of soldiers from Nebraska who have been killed since 9/11.

Steve Swarthout, father of local veteran Drae Swarthout, spoke to the assembly.

“It makes me smile to see all of the young people in the audience,” he said. “It gives me hope and reminds me that this is what my son fought for -- freedom.”

Drae Swarthout served in the U.S. Army from October 2012 to March 2016 in the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Lewis, Wash. and then in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

He was deployed overseas and returned home at the end of his tour. He died Feb. 27, 2018, of suicide

“Our flag stands for many things,” said Steve Swarthout. “I once heard that we could live our life as a wolf, a sheep or a sheepdog. The United States is the sheepdog of the world. We fight for injustices in other countries so that little boys and girls can go to school. In other countries, bad things happen if a little girl would try to go to school.

“Freedom comes at a cost. We should honor our flag and our veterans because of the sacrifices that they’ve made. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice of their life,” Swarthout said.

On average, 22 veterans die by suicide every day, according to Swarthout.

“That means on Feb. 27, 21 other families were feeling what I was feeling,” Swarthout said. “The next day another 22 families...

“When war happens, most soldiers come home, but it never leaves their mind,” Swarthout said. “When he decided to return home, I thought he was safe. Parents, please remember that no matter how tough they want you to believe that they are, they might need some help. Don’t leave someone who is struggling.”

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