“This is a day we can all come together and show them our gratitude for their service; for their willingness to stand up on our behalf and for this great country.” – Kathy Bailey, Loveland Mayor

By Chuck Gibson

St. Columban students honored Veteran’s in a special ceremony at Loveland Veteran’s Memorial Park on Veteran’s Day morning. More than 120 seventh and eighth-grade students made the mile-plus trek from their school campus waving American Flags. Upon arrival they quickly gathered around a group of Veteran’s for a photo together.

It didn’t take long for the six members of St. Columban student council to take their places with teacher Chad Drinnen directing. Drinnen has been organizing this St. Columban School – Loveland Veteran’s Day tribute since 1995.  Each of the student council members plays a key role in the ceremony. Paul Laufersweiler stepped up with the microphone first to begin the program. He delivered a message of thanks to all veterans and handed off to Loveland City Mayor Kathy Bailey.

“Today is all about our proud men and women who have served in the military and our opportunity to formally thank them,” said Bailey. “This is a day we can all come together and show them our gratitude for their service; for their willingness to stand up on our behalf and for this great country.”

Honoring our military service men and women holds special meaning for Bailey who was accompanied by her daughter Katelyn Bailey, Ohio Army National Guard Air Defense Crew member. Katelyn just returned from a one-year deployment to Washington, D.C. Bailey’s son was also an infantryman with the U.S. Army, and her father a pilot in WWII. She delivered a powerful heartfelt message about living in the greatest country on earth.

“We only get to do that, to keep the freedom and opportunities we have because of the one percent of our population willing to stand up and take that oath on our behalf,” Bailey said. “I am just very grateful for them.”

The Noble and the Brave – A Veteran’s Day Tribute poem written by Joanna Fuchs was recited by the Student Council Members. Everyone bowed their head and joined in the reading of a prayer for all military. Steve Bow played taps and students watched solemnly  as a wreath was placed at the foot of the American Flag pole in remembrance of the brave men and women who lost their life in service to our country. The students, veteran’s, Loveland police and fire personnel, Loveland Councilman Kent Blair and general public on hand turned toward the flag, placed their hands over their heart and joined student Brock Lusby in singing the National Anthem.

All veterans present were recognized with applause as Ella Puthoff called them forward as she named wars from WWII to today. Among those recognized was 96 year old WWII veteran Robert Bronner Sr. accompanied by his sons Robert Jr, Ron, and Rick Bronner. Robert Sr. spoke of his gratitude for the St. Columban students coming out to do this for the veteran’s.

“It means a lot to be here and feel their respect for what we have done,” said Bronner. “I am thankful to those kids for doing this for our veterans.”

Brian Otten served in the United States Marine Corps and noted the importance of the message of respect for country the students delivered with the special ceremony.

“It’s very special,” said Otten, who has a grandchild in St. Columban School. “People are disrespecting the flag everywhere, taking a knee, and going the wrong way. Things like this event today may help turn things around, put a halt to it. That’s very important to me.”

At the close of the ceremony, every St. Columban student lined up and then shook hands with each of the veterans on hand. It was a most poignant scene as veterans Ron Bronner, Rick Bronner, Bob Bronner, Walt Golladay, Brian Otten, Knox Smith and Katelyn Bailey received each student as they passed through the line. After the formal reception line ended, Student Council members Maya Brausch, Lauren Butera, Amanda Braig, Paul Laufersweiler, Brock Lusby and Ella Puthoff stood for a photo with the veterans they honored.  

For more information visit: www.saintcolumbanschool.org

NOTE: See photo gallery for more from the ceremony in Loveland on Veteran’s Day. 

Photo Captions: 1) Students quickly joined veterans for a photo, 2) Mayor Kathy Bailey with her daughter Katelyn currently serving with the Ohio Army National Guard, 3) St. Columban Student Councilmembers: Lauren Butera, Brock Lusby, Paul Laufersweiler, Amanda Braig, Ella Puthoff & Maya Brausch, 4) Student Council with Mayor Bailey, Knox Smith, Brian Otten, Walt Golladay, Bob Bronner, Rick Bronner, and Ron Bronner, 5) Veterans on hand included 96 year old WWII Veteran Robert Bronner Sr. , 6) Students placed a wreath at the foot of the flag in memory of those who lost their life in service to our country.