The Las Animas High School Student Council, under the direction of adviser Jeri Ann Stover, organized and sponsored another successful and moving Veterans Day Ceremony for the Las Animas community.

The Las Animas High School Student Council, under the direction of adviser Jeri Ann Stover, organized and sponsored another successful and moving Veterans Day Ceremony for the Las Animas community. The program started promptly at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, 2016, with the posting of the colors by Student Council students. Semara Abling, 13-year-old from Lamar, sang the national anthem accompanied by Diane Brown, pianist from McClave. The Las Animas fifth and sixth grade students led the Pledge of Allegiance and Greg Bullock, pastor at Fort Lyon Homeless Coalition and teacher at LAHS, delivered the invocation.

Makayla Huffman welcomed the crowd and introduced Dr. Pamela Kuhns-Valdez, President of Post #2411 VFW Auxiliary. She delivered her traditional speech on the History of Veterans Day and emphasized that it is a day to remember and honor the "living"? veterans on the "11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month."? She wanted the crowd to thank our veterans for their service and read a poem that reminds us that because of our veterans we have the right to assemble, bear arms, religious freedom and the right to vote.

All five service flags were posted by Student Council students as the corresponding service songs were played by Diane Brown, pianist. Veterans were asked to stand, if able when his/her service song was played. The VFW Auxiliary members handed out Buddy Poppies to each veteran and thanked them personally.

Pam then wanted to announce veterans anniversaries. Nov. 9, 2016, was the 241st birthday of the Marines and this year is the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and 55th anniversary of the Korean DMZ Veteran. She then began recognizing each war/conflict era vet. There were three World War II and seven Korean War veterans present. Numerous V=veterans from the Cold War, Gulf War, Desert Storm/Shield, and Global War on Terrorism stood and were recognized. Several veterans were in several campaigns. Three female veterans were recognized.

Pam concluded with the recognition of the Vietnam veterans. She shared that the VFW Auxiliary Post #2411 became a 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam Veterans Partner and awarded and recognized 67 Vietnam veterans March 29, 2016, during a ceremony held at Fort Lyon National Cemetery and 38 at the LAHS All-School Class Reunion in May. Over 30 Vietnam veterans came forward and were presented a Commemoration bronze lapel pin, specially created for this event year. Pam read the symbolic meaning of the pin when the auxiliary members also handed out Vietnam veteran bumper stickers and tin pins. Collectively the crowd recognized, welcomed and thanked these veterans, which ended with an emotional standing ovation.

Pam stressed that every day should be "Veterans Day." She mentioned a few ways that we as a community could show our support for our veterans. She was excited to still see green lights shining on local porches after handing out 150 green light bulbs last year. "Green porch lights are a way to show your support?," said Pam. The Pioneer Historical Museum is still collecting oral histories of our local veterans and those interested were directed to Donna Dodson and Kathleen Tomlin sitting at a table covered by scrapbooks. She mentioned the fast approaching deadline for purchasing a $15 wreath for the Wreaths Across America ceremony to be held at Fort Lyon on Dec. 17 this year. Wreaths can be bought by several organizations in this community with our goal to one day place wreaths at all 3,000 graves at Fort Lyon. Mayor Jim Collins, also the new Veteran Service Officer, has organized a forum with the local service organizations interested in veterans' needs. It meets on the second Friday at 7 p.m. at City Hall. Its purpose is to help veterans find resources and fulfill needs, so all veterans are encouraged to attend. "There should never be a homeless veteran," Pam emphasized. She explained "RED Fridays." (Remember Everyone Deployed). People are encouraged to wear red shirts on Fridays until all our troops return home. She reminded us that, "We are still at war! We lost six Green Berets last week and two from Fort Carson that were serving with my daughter's boyfriend's unit. We need to pray and support our troops until they all return home."? Pam thanked all those who organized this celebration and invited the veterans and their families to VFW Post #2411 for a free luncheon prepared in their honor following the program.

Semara then sang "God Bless America" beautifully. Student Council students retired the colors and Makayla Huffman introduced Superintendent Elsie Goines, who is also a veteran, for the closing remarks. She thanked the Student Council students and expressed her appreciation for their efforts in organizing this event.

This was the first of three years that the Veterans Day program was held when school is not in session. Students were not required to attend and their presence was greatly missed, but the program was well attended by the community and veterans. Next year's program might be hosted at a new location and a possible community program might be coordinated with local churches when held on Sunday. Watch for the location next two years.