OTTUMWA — Veterans will be honored at schools all across the area Monday.
In Ottumwa, a breakfast and veterans appreciation assembly will be held at Evans Middle School. Attendees can expect musical performances from the school band and Sarah Ziegler, a teacher at Evans.
The school has been planning the event for a month. Kathy Mobley, curriculum leader at Evans, said students were shown videos explaining the reason for the holiday, and asked to write thank-you letters for the veterans. Each advisory class was tasked with designing a commemorative poster.
The best of the posters and letters will be presented at the assembly, and the students with the best letters will read them aloud for the veterans in the crowd.
For Mobley, who added the practice of letter-writing and poster-making when she took over coordinating the assembly eight years ago, the day has a personal significance as well.
“Another reason I want to make it an important day is my dad,” she said. “He served in World War II, and he was in a submarine service in the Pacific. Then I had a good friend, and he was in the VFW, and he served in World War II. So both of those men have passed away, so it’s sort of my day of remembering them too. I want to make sure it lives on in these kids.”
Chief Warrant Officer Rick Reinier, one of the JROTC instructors at the high school, will give the keynote address. Reinier retired with close to 30 years of service in the army, and was mobilized during the Persian Gulf War.
“When I think of Veterans Day, I think of the families as much as I do the veterans,” he said. “We sign up, we go do our thing, we know what we were signing up for, so when they tell us to go, we go. The families that are left behind: the wives, the husbands, the kids, they pay a real price. There’s a lot of missed birthdays, holidays, and it’s a real comfort for soldiers to know they’ve got the support at home.”
Many of the JROTC cadets will be responsible for running the breakfast and handling the flags at the assembly. Others will go around the district to do flag-folding and flag-raising demonstrations at the various elementary schools.
Cardinal will host an assembly later in the day, featuring music performances, a slideshow, and awards for students with Veterans Day drawings, essays, and poems. Terry Bradley, who served in the coast guard, will give a speech. The auditorium will be decorated with poppies, the longstanding symbol of service members who have died.
While Reinier said the day was very special to him, he said appreciation of veterans is a sentiment he’d like to see all year round.
“We set aside Nov. 11 every year to recognize the veterans,” he said. “Why do we just do it one day a year? We ought to recognize veterans every day.”
The Evans assembly will begin 8:15 a.m. Nov. 11 with a breakfast and the main event to follow at 9 a.m. The Cardinal assembly begins at 1:30 p.m.