By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
WEST POINT — Students in uniform lined the bleachers of the Holy Trinity Elementary gym to salute local veterans. Kindergartners wore Air Force gray and Coast Guard red. First-graders wore Marine yellow and Navy blue. Second-graders donned Army green. Hundreds of other students and faculty came armed with American flag stickers.
For the past decade, students and staff at Holy Trinity Catholic Schools in West Point and Fort Madison have celebrated Veterans Day with Mass and a morning program.
“We feel that it is important to honor our veterans who sacrificed for our country and so enable us to have the freedoms that we enjoy today,” elementary religion teacher Karen Schumaker told The Catholic Messenger.
This year’s event on Nov. 8 started with Mass at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in West Point. Father Gary Beckmann, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Fort Madison, presided at the Mass. Father Dan Dorau, pastor of parishes in West Point, Houghton, St. Paul and Farmington, concelebrated. Veterans in uniform joined pre-kindergarten, elementary and junior/senior high students and staff at the Mass.
Participants assembled afterwards in the elementary gym for the student-led program. The Holy Trinity band played the Star Spangled Banner and the dance team presented the colors. Elementary students sang patriotic songs.
Sixth-graders honored Vietnam Army veteran Darius Janssen with a PowerPoint presentation about his life. The local American Legion chose Janssen for the honor and the class interviewed him last month. The presentation included submitted photos and snippets of the recorded interview. The students reported that Janssen was instrumental in getting Lee County’s Freedom Rock placed in West Point and assisted in the memorial’s design.
Students Michael Chapman and Evan Pauly gave a speech for National Poppy Day and band teacher Emily Otte performed Taps. Participants witnessed a 21-gun salute to end the presentation. Elementary students joined veterans and their spouses for lunch in the cafeteria.
Eighth-grader Mason Roach appreciated the opportunity to give veterans “the credit they deserve” at the celebration. They “sacrificed a lot for our country,” he said. Classmate Emma Menke said the event gives veterans a chance to come together and talk about similar experiences.
Sixth-grader Brooklyn Scheetz said her favorite part of the celebration was when veterans from different branches stood together to pose for a photograph. The crowd erupted in applause and the pride in the veterans’ faces was palpable. “Most people don’t have the courage to fight for our country but these men and women (did) so that we can have freedom” and feel safe.