Those who made sacrifices for the United States of America will be teaching younger generations about the value of patriotism and the history of their freedoms this Veterans Day.
Veterans will visit schools throughout Jefferson and Clark counties to meet and speak with students about what it means to be a veteran, and what it means to be a citizen of the U.S. Lester Riess, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Verle Skidmore Post 8893, said he hopes students learn more about the military and the sacrifices men and women have made to keep the United States a free country.
“We’re trying to teach patriotism, and we’re trying to keep the memory alive of what happened (in wars) … so that these students understand what freedom is all about,” Riess said.
In the southern portion of Jefferson County, members of the VFW Snake River Post 1004 will visit schools throughout the area. Roy Gibson, post commander, said VFW Post 1004 is among the only posts that visits all the schools in the area, rather than a select few.
“Hopefully we can teach the kids about Veterans Day and instill a little bit of patriotism in them,” Gibson said.
That leaves the post with a full schedule. This Friday, Post 1004 veterans will visit Harwood Elementary 8:30 to 9 a.m., Jefferson Elementary 9:15 to 9:45 a.m., Farnsworth Elementary 9:50 to 10:20 a.m., Jefferson High School 10:40 to 11:30 a.m., Midway Elementary 12:30 to 1 p.m. and Roberts Elementary 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. On Veterans Day, they visit Rire Elementary 8:30 to 9:20 a.m., Ririe High School 9:25 to 10 a.m., South Fork Elementary (Rexburg) 10:30 to 11 a.m., South Fork Elementary (Rigby) 12:50 to 1:45 p.m., Rigby Middle School 1:55 to 2:35 p.m. and Rigby High School 2:40 to 3:50 p.m.
Gibson said two of the larger programs are at Rigby High School and Roberts Elementary. The high school is the longest program, taking more than an hour. RHS principal Bryan Lords said students are not always interested in assemblies, but he said he thinks the Veterans Day assembly is one they are invested in. He said he thinks 80% or 90% of students at the school know someone who has served in the military in the past 50 years, many of which are family members.
“It hits a little bit closer to home to them,” Lords said.
Lords said the assembly is a way to give back to veterans in a small way, by thanking them for their service and recognizing what they have done.
Veterans speak at each school and, if the weather is not “real bad,” perform the 21-gun salute Gibson said. Gibson said last year, most of the programs were held inside. This year, it will depend on the weather. The 21-gun salute is a nod to 1776, the year the U.S.A. declared independence from Britain.
“If you add up 1, 7, 7, 6, it comes out to 21,” Gibson said.
Clark County and West Jefferson are the domains of VFW Post 8893. Riess said the post and any veterans who wish to join will participate in programs for Clark County and West Jefferson students. The Clark County program will be at 8:30 a.m. in Dubois, and the West Jefferson program in the afternoon.
Both VFW posts will also have separate programs.
In Mud Lake, Post 8893 will have an 11 a.m. program at West Jefferson Cemetery. Riess said the program will likely include a formation, flag presentation and short speech and is intended to honor veterans who have served or are serving.
Post 1004 will host a Veterans appreciation dinner at 6 Saturday night at Rigby Middle School. Gibson said members of the public are invited to attend the event, which is meant to recognize veterans in the community. He said raffle tickets will be for sale, with money from the sales going toward helping veterans in the area. Gibson said the men’s raffle will include a shotgun and cooler and the women’s raffle will include a rifle, quilt and gift baskets. The Old Time Fiddlers will provide entertainment.
The post’s Veteran of the Year will also be announced at the dinner. Gibson said the Veteran of the Year is selected based on how much they help the post and the community and how long they have been doing so.
For information on Veterans of Foreign Wars, visit www.vfw.org.