EVANSTON — The sacrifices of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces were honored through multiple community events over the Veterans Day weekend, starting on Friday, Nov. 9, and continuing through the observed holiday on Monday, Nov. 12.
Two local schools held ceremonies on Friday in recognition of Veterans Day, including North Elementary’s annual breakfast, flag-raising ceremony and fifth-grade musical program. Students dressed in red, white and blue honored veterans with multiple musical selections, including an Armed Forces medley of the songs of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, along with a handbell section honoring those who lost their lives while serving.
Later Friday afternoon Davis Middle School held its annual recognition ceremony, honoring Evanston resident and Navy veteran Don Barnhart, who served in Vietnam. Barnhart’s family is one of a long military tradition, with his grandfather serving in World War I, his father in World War II and Korea and his daughter now continuing the tradition in the Air Force.
Barnhart was presented with a United States flag and his name was added to the Veterans Hall at DMS. In addressing the students, Barnhart spoke about the protesters present when he returned from service and said, “I beseech you to never protest or insult those who have fought for your freedoms.”
Along with musical presentations from the DMS select choir, orchestra and band, Barnhart was presented with handwritten notes from every student in the school. He said he was going to keep them in a basket at his home and read one every day.
On Sunday morning, the Uinta County Veterans Board held an honorary brunch at Evanston’s Machine Shop. The food, catered by Jack Vreeland and his daughter Leah, was free for veterans, and the event included multiple ceremonial components. A color guard from Boy Scout troop 911 presented the nation’s flag and those of the branches of the Armed Forces, following which Jane Anderson sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Veterans Board president Amelia Rutner spoke of gratitude for those who served, and her voice audibly cracked when speaking of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
At 11:11 a.m. members of VFW Post 4280 presented a 21-gun salute, followed by a bugler playing “Taps,” to mark the exact 100-year anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I at 11:11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.
The morning brunch also included a presentation by members of Evanston’s Masonic Lodge No. 4 that told the story of “Old Glory,” including the symbolism of the color scheme. While many know the 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies and there is one star for each state, the symbolism of the color scheme itself may not be so well known. The red signifies hardiness and valor, the white purity and innocence and the blue perseverance and justice.
On Monday morning, Evanston High School held its veterans recognition ceremony, which also included musical selections from the orchestra and choir. Keynote speaker and math teacher Colin Wilson, an Air Force veteran of Desert Storm, spoke to students about what it means to be in the military, likening it to a family that has all taken the same oath of protecting the U.S. Constitution.
All five branches of the military are represented in Wilson’s family and he said he is often asked which branch is the best. “They all have pros and cons,” he said, “but they all do the same thing – defend our country.” He said he hopes students have respect for veterans who “wrote a blank check to our country with their lives.”
At 11:11 a.m. on Monday, another ceremony was held at the Uinta County Complex, including a wreath laying, prayer, 21-gun salute and “Taps.” Following that ceremony, VFW Post 4280 held a free community luncheon featuring traditional Navy ham and beans and cornbread.
Wrapping up the Veterans Day recognitions, students and staff at Clark Elementary honored veterans by inviting them to have lunch with them on Monday, Nov. 12. Students applauded the attending veterans and principal Kimber Fessler thanked them for their service.