A large group of veterans attended the annual Veterans Day program on Friday afternoon in the gymnasium of Switzerland County High School.
Co-sponsored by the FFA and the student council, veterans were greeted as they entered the school by a display of military items on loan from veterans as well as students. Each veteran was escorted to their seat by a student.
Local veteran Paul Schmitt brought in military memorabilia from veteran Robert L. Ervin, who loaned an old American Flag that still contained the leather strapping rather than the eyelets that are used to raise flags now; as well as his military jacket from his time in World War II.
Special guests for the program were military veterans who are residents of the Swiss Villa Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
World War II veteran James Levell was the oldest veteran in attendance; while several of the veterans in attendance were recognized for their valor, including earning the Purple Heart.
FFA President Brandon Works and Student Council President Kelby Rogers were the students who led the program; and high school teacher Barry Smith, a veteran, spoke about his life and career.
Teacher Michelle Hicks read the names of all of the veterans in attendance, as well as which branch of the military they served in.
The band and choir performed patriotic selections, along with a special performance by the flag corps.
Paul Hewitt, teacher at Switzerland County Middle School, presented the school’s Veterans Community Service Award to Don Stout.
Stout served in the US Army during the Vietnam War. He earned a Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Campaign Medal. Locally, he has been involved with the Lions Club and has served 2 terms as president. He is employed at Haskell-Morrison Funeral Home and also with Swiss Villa Nursing Home as a driver. Both these occupations put him very much out in the public.
The program concluded with an emotional moment, as student Cheyenne Minch spoke about the military service of her father, Jeff Minch, who had died suddenly the day before.
As the program ended, the FFA presented each of the more than 60 veterans in attendance with a green light bulb. Displaying a green light outside of your home signifies support of veterans.