New Richmond American Legion Post 80

Bagpiper Kieran DuHoux leads members of New Richmond American Legion Post 80 in the presentation of the colors to begin the Veterans Day program at the New Richmond Middle School, Friday, Nov. 11. 

On Friday, Nov. 11, In what has become one of the most popular celebrations of Veterans Day locally, members of the New Richmond Middle School band, choir and orchestra joined the student body and community members including more than 60 veterans to commemorate the service and sacrifice of all veterans living and passed.

Bagpiper Kieran DuHoux led members of New Richmond American Legion Post 80 in the presentation of the colors ahead of the welcome delivered by Principal Douglas Hatch.

“The service members we honor today came from all walks of life but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity. Today people throughout our country will gather together to remember, to honor, to say thank you for those who have served our country. Our ceremony is just one small way that we can honor all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in freedom. Freedom is not free,” Hartch said.

Students Grace Chapman, Sam Hyman and Malia Matthias read their winning essays on the theme, “Why I Love My Country.”

Hyman recognized the veterans for their sacrifice.

“Thirteen stripes, 50 stars, red, white and blue, it’s not just a flag, it’s a symbol, a symbol of freedom, diversity, blood, sweat, and sacrifice ,,, What makes a country the best, what separates it from the rest, is the people that live in it … Most of all, it's the people who sacrifice for us all, the people who have or are currently serving in all our branches of the military … I’m thankful for the people that are on the field in battle, but I’m also talking about the people that are putting ice packs on soldiers in hospitals, for the people that work in the military offices and the people who just sweep the floors and serve the food. You all served and did something amazing for our country,” Hyman said.

For the first time in the history of the middle school program, the keynote speaker featured a graduate of the New Richmond School District, back from Afghanistan, Army National Guard Spc. Erik Gilkison. Eleven years earlier, Gilikison attended this same program as an eighth grade middle schooler.

Gilikison expressed gratitude for the skills and experience his military service provided him and a number of friendships that endure still today, but in the end, it was allegiance to an idea bigger than himself that defined his service. 

“All veterans are ordinary people who chose to raise their right hand and become a part of something bigger than themselves. To willingly sacrifice the comforts and freedoms afforded to us all in this country for the sake of preserving it. While I cannot stand here and say all of our country’s wars were just, the individual soldiers do not choose where and why they are deployed. They only choose to sign the dotted line and try their best to make the world a better place.”

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