Nov. 1, 2016 – West Bend, WI – A powerful message of respect and dedication was delivered during Monday night’s West Bend Common Council meeting as local veterans were honored during a special ceremony organized by Common Sense Citizens of Washington County.
Veterans were greeted at the entrance to Green Tree School by local Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops. The scouts shook hands with veterans and thanked them for their service.
Korean War veteran Merlin Stockhausen said the recognition by the “young people” made him feel proud.
During the ceremony Boy Scout Troop 780 presented the colors and UW-Washington County student Morgan Gundrum led a rendition of the National Anthem.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited and Pastor Jeff Hesse from St. John’s Lutheran Church presided over the invocation.
West Bend East High School social studies teacher Scott Mindel provided a history lesson on military actions since 9/11. Mindel was used a slideshow to detail women in the military, experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and he listed the West Bend residents who were killed while serving their country in the post 9/11 War on Terror including U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Todd Cornell, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Travis Wichlacz, and U.S. Marine Captain Kevin Kryst.
Army recruiter, Staff Sergeant Glen McKinney followed Mindel with an extremely moving first-hand account of what it’s like to be on active military duty. McKinney said he was 17 years old and with my parents permission he enlisted. The Twin Towers had come down on 9/11 and he couldn’t wait to sign up to defend his country. “I wasn’t just angry, I was infuriated. I wanted to make a difference and I wanted personal revenge,” he said.
“I didn’t ask what job I was going to take. I didn’t ask what I was going to do, but I was going to be a soldier.”
Girl Scouts from Troop 6031 attended the ceremony. “I liked what they said about the veterans and the slideshow about how they fought for our freedom,” said 10-year-old Olivia O’Connor.
Kaitlin McFarlan, 10, from Silverbrook said, “This ceremony made me smile because I met all these veterans who served our country.”
McFarlan and her classmates walked around the gym during the ceremony shaking hands with veterans including WWII vet Donald Hansen.
Other WWII veterans on hand included Alan Kieckhafer and Dean Benzer, 95, a bombardier who flew B-17s during WWII.
There are several other ceremonies to honor veterans coming up in Washington County.
– The Veterans Day Observance at Kettle Moraine Lutheran is Nov. 3 at 9:20 am. The theme this year is POW/MIA.
-The Student Veterans of America Club at UW-Washington County (UW-WC) are commemorating Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 11, with a ceremony at noon in the campus theatre. All area veterans and their families as well as the general public are welcome to attend.