Applause for those who served

Patriotic school assembly celebrates 23 years honoring veterans
Katherine Sears
Managing Editor
Friday, November 12, 2021
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Veterans line up to enter Lewistown Junior High Thursday for the annual Veterans Day program.
Photo by Deb Hill

For many, Thursday was just a day off from work for a federal holiday.
But for the students and faculty at Lewistown Junior High, Thursday was an opportunity to pay homage to Central Montana veterans.
For the 23rd year, students invited veterans, their families and community members to a patriotic assembly at the school.
The event began with a red, white and blue-decorated motor coach ride for veterans from the Yogo Inn to the Junior High, complete with police escort.
Veterans were greeted at the school door and ushered into the auditorium. There, students joined with community organizations to recognize veterans and explore the meaning of Veterans Day.
Members of American Legion Post 16 Honor Guard posted colors and the POW/MIA flag. Students read interviews they conducted with local veterans Tom Webb, Bob Goodan, Lee Lantzer, Dan Konert and Patrick Ginnaty.
Students also explained the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and paid tribute to the late Ted Murray, a veteran who drove District school buses for over 20 years.
National Guard members Sgt. Crisswell and Sgt. Hamblen demonstrated the folding of the American flag, and the Junior High Choir sang the “Star Spangled Banner,” “Sing for America,” and “Thank You Soldiers,” led by Choir Director Lauren Wright and accompanied by Tom Wojtowick on piano.

A highlight of the event was guest speaker Major Zachary Manning, Air Force veteran and former F-16 pilot, who now works as a District bus driver. In an entertaining presentation, Manning compared features of the F-16 to “facts” about Justin Bieber, whom Manning jokingly said was junior high science teacher Brett Shelagowski’s favorite singer.
Then Manning turned serious, explaining his feelings about being a veteran and about Veterans Day.
“U.S. veterans are a special kind of people,” Manning said. “Not every country has the freedoms we have. In large part, the freedoms we enjoy are due to veterans.”
Veterans in the audience were recognized, decade by decade and conflict by conflict, with loud applause, starting with the 1940s and World War II and ending with currently enlisted men and women.
Afterwards, veterans and their family members were invited to a dessert social at the Yogo Inn.