Ceremony honored area Veterans
By Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (November 10, 2023) – The sky was blue with a bright sun shining down upon the St. Columban School Friday morning as more than 30 U.S. Armed Services Veterans made their way into the school gym for a Veterans Day ceremony honoring their service and sacrifice for our country.
There was 33 U.S. Armed Services seated with some of their family members in the front of the St. Columban School gym packed with the entire student body from grades K-8. American Flag lined the walkways and parking lot outside the church and the school greeting each of the arriving veterans. Flags hung inside the building as well. School staff including the Principal, Assistant Principal and faculty were joined by the Loveland Mayor Kathy Bailey and City Manager David Kennedy for this special celebration. An air of excitement and anticipation filled the room as the six officers of student council took their places and welcomed the Veterans and everyone in attendance to begin the ceremony.
Student Council Officer Liam Schnettler introduced Mayor Kathy Bailey as the keynote speaker for opening remarks. She opened with thanks to St. Columban for including her in the special day. Her message included a little history lesson about what Veterans Day is and where it came from (The armistice ending WWI in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) formerly known as Armistice Day. The students and veterans listened intently as she continued with a heartfelt message of thanks to all the veterans past and present who sacrificed to “give us the freedoms we enjoy today. Without them, our country would not be what it is. Thank you for your service.” Bailey encouraged everyone to always thank a veteran for their service. “I’ve never had one get mad because I thanked them for their service.” Her remarks were well received by the students and the veterans.
The ceremony included the playing of taps on the trumpet, the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, a poem read by each officer of Student Council, and a prayer for the veterans, those serving, and our country. Then came the most moving tribute to each of the veterans on hand. They were asked to stand and be recognized as the anthems from each branch of the military played. As soon as the first anthem began each of the Army veterans stood and the entire student body erupted with applause, it continued as each branch followed: Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines.
Emotions were visible as many fought back tears whether of joy, or pride or maybe even the memories of the difficulties of fighting for our freedom. Bill Rider was among the Army veterans (1972-1981) who felt the joy, pride and honor of the ceremony by St. Columban School students honoring their service.
“The heartfelt thanks in these children expresses the warmth in their hearts,” Rider said. “All the guys I was talking to…it touched us all. It was just beautiful.”
This was the first time Mr. Rider was able to attend the St. Columban School Veterans Day ceremony. He had a message for the students:
“I want to thank you very much,” said Rider. “It was very beautiful and I don’t know how the heck you’re going to improve on it next year, but I’m sure you will.”
He’s probably right. Somehow each year the St. Columban School students find a special way to touch the hearts of the veterans, their families and all who attend this special ceremony to honor their service to our country.
The ceremony concluded with the students moving outside to the school flag pole where they were joined by the 33 veterans on hand for the raising of the American Flag and placing of a memorial wreath at the foot of the flag pole.
Student Council officers chose Liam Schnettler to speak on their behalf about what is means to them to honor the veterans with this special ceremony.
“I think it means all of us, since we’re all young, we’re kind of like the future of America,” said Schnettler. “It’s important we all respect the veterans to have like a mirror image so we can copy off what they have done.”
Overall what stood out for him on the day was seeing the veterans were happy. He recognized the importance of seeing their joy and pride as they were recognized during the ceremony.
Henry Richmond, also an officer on Student Council recognized a special moment during the ceremony.
“During the theme song of each branch I saw a lot of the veterans were participating and singing along,” said Richmond. “I think they were pretty engaged in that.”
Yes the veterans were engaged in that moment and throughout the ceremony. Most admitted to fighting back tears at some point during the ceremony, but especially upon hearing the anthem from their branch of service. They could feel the gratitude. It was well received and well deserved. Thank you St. Columban students for a job well done.
Thank you VETERANS for YOUR SERVICE and SACRIFICE for our United States of America!