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Veterans create a ripple of pride with their service

Veterans create a ripple of pride with their service Veterans create a ripple of pride with their service
By Ginna Young “Every year, we honor our veterans with this program. I am saddened we cannot do it this year, face-to-face.” Those sentiments from Cornell High School principal Dave Elliott, were largely echoed, as not only the Cornell, but Cadott and Lake Holcombe school districts, had little choice but to hold virtual programs, honoring the nation’s service men and women Nov. 11. This year, Veterans Day had to be conducted a little differently, as the spread of COVID-19 continues and the risk of exposure to the virus has the state in its grasp. However, because this is an important day to the districts, it was likewise important to show veterans how much they mean to their communities. For Cadott, their virtual program began with a message from superintendent Jenny Starck, who says she is grateful for all the blessings she has in her life. “I’m blessed to live in a country to share our opinions and even disagree, yet come together in unity and honor those who have sacrificed so much for us,” she said. Starck says on days like Veterans Day, she thinks of her own father, who served in World War II, as a skinny 18 year old in a foreign land. She said he never spoke much about his experiences, but through him, she learned a deep respect for her country and those who served it. The district also saw high school students recite the Pledge of Allegiance and heard the Star Spangled Banner performed by senior Jozlynn Messenger. Students then read selections of short histories of the area’s past, and present, veterans. It was a solemn moment, as TAPS was played to finish out the virtual presentation. For Cornell’s program, the virtual presentation featured selections of videos designed to inspire and remind people of why veterans are such an important part of the freedoms in this country. The slideshow also highlighted community veterans’ connections to current Cornell School District students. “When we honor our veterans, we use powerful words, like service, sacrifice, courage and honor,” said Elliott. Elliott says he wants students and people to understand another powerful word that reflects the feeling held deep within veterans. “That word is pride,” he said, adding that kind of pride does not come from a “like” on social media or a compliment. “Pride is a feeling that is earned. It lasts a lifetime.” Elliott shared that pride happens when someone commits, outworks, confronts and overtakes the things that challenge them at their very core. He said when veterans leave home, and head to boot camp, they learn special skills and are given orders. “And those orders determined the level of danger, and increased or decreased their chance of making it home,” said Elliott. Over the years, veterans have left home and met their fears head-on, been around the world, serving bravely and with humility. “That is why their pride is held deep within, even after 30, 40, 50 or more years, after they have served,” said Elliott. “But there is even more to this story. There is an echo with their service, with their sacrifice, a ripple – no a shockwave – that was felt by their loved ones.” Elliott says families felt the pride and mixed fear, as those who want nothing more than the safe return of their service member. He asked that people take the time to recognize a veteran in their family, neighborhood or community. “But most importantly, it falls on you,” said Elliott, “when you see that veteran…that you take the time to let them know how much you appreciate it, the time they took out of their lives, to give back to yours.” To finish out the tribute programs, Lake Holcombe held a posting of colors by the Cornell American Legion, along with performances of the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful by the high school choir. Involving the younger students, the kindergarten class recited the Pledge of Allegiance and also made signs of gratitude for those in service. Local veterans were then invited to share their experiences during their time in the service, after which, David Staudacher, lifelong resident of Holcombe, and a 1965 graduate of Lake Holcombe, spoke on his time in service to his country. Staudacher attended UW-Stevens Point, earning a degree in forest management. Then, in February of 1970, he enlisted in the United States Navy and was stationed on a guided missile cruiser, the USS Chicago. After his service, he returned to Holcombe, to log and later used his college degree to become an assistant forest administrator for Chippewa County. “He is still active in the Lake Holcombe community,” said Lake Holcombe principal Mark Porter, “serving on the town board and he recently donated land to be used for the veterans memorial.” Staudacher began by pointing out that in its history, the district has had many Lake Holcombe graduates who have entered into service in the military. However, he chose to pay special homage to those who enlisted from the Class of 1965. After a brief synopsis of his classmates’ time in the military, Staudacher spoke of his service in the Navy and how he was stationed off the coast of Vietnam. There, he performed PIRAZ duty (Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone) and was one of those charged with identifying all aircraft who came their way. “For years, we weren’t allowed to talk of that,” said Staudacher. “Now, the technology we used is far outdated.” Staudacher thanked not only his Class of 1965 veterans, but all United States veterans. “In conclusion, God bless the veterans and God bless America.”