There can not be enough thanks expressed to Hauser and Hope Elementary for taking the time out of their busy schedules to make Veterans Day a priority.

As soon as I entered the doors of Hauser, there were greeters with smiling faces, several seniors I had in fifth grade my last year. Principal J. P. Mayer got things started, and the Hope American Legion Color Guard posted and later retired the colors. Throughout the program, the Hauser Band, under the direction of Mr. Goodman, gave noteworthy performances. It was great to see J.T. Doane, our town manager, flanked by Diane Burton, Clyde Compton, and Ohmer Miller expressing thanks to the service of veterans.

As he has for years, Bill Riley, Post Commander of the Hope American Legion, introduced the veterans and stressed that students take time to listen to their stories. Several students stood before the audience and shared in some way while handling their parts in a professional manner. Natalie Taylor, Josie Smith, MaLeah Bates, Hailey Lange, Naomi Gollmer, Annie Ashbrook, Pete Trotter, Ella Hardy, and Brea Metz are to be commended. Behind the scenes, Ella Hardy, Taylor Hollman, Mathew Mullis, Spencer Seim, and Kortney Wallace put together a video featuring local veterans answering a few questions about their service time and included several Hauser staff members/students thanking all veterans. With the leadership of Mr. Finke, Advanced Government, Mrs. Dickerson, FFA, and the teamwork of their students, it was a day to remember with veterans receiving a standing ovation.

I then traveled to Hope Elementary. Arriving a little late, I heard the voice of Mrs. Poe, their principal, while entering a crowded gym. Patrick Snyder of Boy Scout Troop #543 and Luke Bruner, Kendrick Crowder, Hayden Morgan, & Will Walters of Cub Scout Pack #543 posted and later retired the colors. Students Noah Renner, Daniel Howard, Abby Blair, Noah Estes, Piper Rowell, Hagan Wiederdsatz, Sarah Taylor, Kylie Mack, Brooke Moore, Riley Croddy, Emma Beauchamp, Serenity Riddle, Cameron Toole, Gracie Greene, Grant Louden, and Rachel Hoke all had specific parts throughout the well- thought-out program and did an excellent job. Mrs. Banta, Music, obviously worked hard in preparing each grade level while Mr. Wheeler, Dean, pulled up the background music at the right time. I observed a lot of people in the audience rightly taking pictures as the following patriotic songs were so wonderfully delivered:

  • Kindergarten -- "This Land is Your Land"

  • First Grade -- "America"

  • Second Grade -- "On Veterans Day"

  • Third Grade -- "For The Good of Many"

  • Fourth Grade -- "Proud Of Our Veterans"

  • Fifth Grade -- "Red, White, & Blue"

  • Sixth Grade -- "Proud To Be An American."

    Sgt. Reener was the guest speaker and shared some of his experiences, including being among the first to enter Iraq.

    Students are to be applauded for the respect they demonstrated at both schools. It was heart warming. When teaching at Hope Elementary and when my dad was alive, I would invite him to drive from Jennings County to attend our Veterans Day Program. He always looked forward to it as well as going to the Yellow Trail Museum afterward for their special luncheon. While there, he enjoyed sharing his stories about serving in World War II and even agreed to be recorded. His words were later transferred to a CD, Dad's Time, which means so much to our family.

    During the programs, I kept on thinking about what my dad stated when asked, "What does that flag mean to you?"

    He said one word that resonated with me that day and will forever, "Freedom!"

    Yes, we are so fortunate to have freedom! I am so proud to live in this community with our town and schools working together to acknowledge that our freedom is not something to take for granted. How fortunate are we?