vets

A Hermann High School student group presented a special program of thanks on Veterans' Day to some of the city's most revered heroes of all time.

The Family Career and Community Leaders of America chapter held the Annual Veterans' Day Breakfast and Salute on Nov. 11 at the school, with a venerable contingent of Hermann veterans in attendance.

The veterans received congratulations from Little and Big Bearcats, such as treats, greeting cards, and placemats on their tables. Students said the gifts recognized the sacrifices for freedom the veterans made during their service. The breakfast, they said, was a way to showcase the community's approval.

A special table, set for six, was set aside for those veterans not present for the breakfast and assembly. Each branch of the nation's military service was recognized. A moment of silence was observed. A poem and prayer were recited for the veterans.

Gasconade County R-1 Superintendent Dr. Scott Smith said the 21st annual event was being held to ensure that all students and the entire Hermann community could properly honor local veterans.

"It is vital that our students hear (about) the sacrifices," Smith said, adding that active-duty personnel were being also being remembered for their service. "It is people like you that make Hermann such a great place to live."

The high school's musical groups -- the HHS Wind Ensemble and Kammerchor -- performed patriotic songs in the gym for the veterans. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4182 also participated in the ceremonies.

Students who helped lead the program included FCCLA President Macie Witthaus; Vice Presidents Kassandra Quilario, Krista Kuhn, and Allyson Hollrah; Secretary Zoe Schafer; and Treasurer Hali Overkamp.

A Wall of Honor was hung in the school commons. Each year, a charity is chosen to be the recipient of money raised by the Wall of Honor. High school students and those veterans in attendance are given the opportunity to donate money in the name of loved ones, with "honor pennants" attached to the wall. This year, the FCCLA chapter decided to donate the proceeds to Central Missouri Honor Flight. The special flight takes Missouri veterans from the area to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials in the nation's capital, at no cost.

The keynote speaker was Lt. Col. Mark Oberg, retired from the U.S. Marine Corps. Oberg is a 1979 graduate of Hermann High School who joined the Marines in 1983, becoming a helicopter pilot. His deployments included time spent in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq.

Oberg said he was impressed by the school's assembly and offered numerous insights into his time in the military.

"I was very fortunate," he said. "I had a job that I loved....I would do it all over again."