Students thanked veterans, and they returned the favor during a friendly Veteran’s Day ceremony on the Dolores School campus Friday.
The entire student body attended the event that featured patriotic songs by the band and choir, speeches, and a somber remembrance of fallen soldiers.
“I would like to thank our veterans for risking their lives to fight for our country, our families, and our freedom,” said senior Zenda Olson. “Thank you for protecting us and keeping American free.”
Junior Julieanna Goad said the service of veterans have allowed America to flourish.
“Because of you, I am able to get an education, feel safe every day and night and speak freely about my opinions,” she said. “I hope you know that you are appreciated and loved tremendously.”
Sophomore Meranda Rhodes said veterans “are extraordinary people. When terror and invasion were real threats, they showed us they could handle any storm. We owe our freedoms and very lives to our veterans.”
A Vietnam veteran spoke about his appreciation of the student-organized event.
“It is heartening to see you recognize our military service, and I want to turn that around and thank the students for putting this on. It is great to live in a part of the world where kids are still patriotic and have gratitude for our country.”
Navy veteran Philip Hicks was also impressed by the support from students.
“I am overwhelmed at the outpouring of affection you have for us,” he said. “Veterans lived what we went through, so we can look at your shining faces out there and see you’re living the American values the military fights to protect. Thank you and God Bless you.”
Sipping on lemonade under sunny skies after the ceremony, Vietnam and Korean war veteran Dan Tanner said he has seen a change in attitudes about the military after 9-11.
“It was a wake-up call. People had forgotten that we can be attacked on our own soil,” he said. “When I came back from Vietnam, people spit on us and would not give us the time of day. Now we have a new appreciation of veterans, so it is good to see the mindset change. I really enjoyed the program.”
Dressed in full uniform, World War II veteran Leroy Crawn, 91, said the ceremony “made him proud.” He encouraged young people to step up and serve their country.
“I think everyone should take their turn serving in the military,” he said. “It teaches discipline, honor and love of country.”
Seventh-grader Hailey Melvin read a poem honoring soldiers and was impressed by the generous spirit of veterans she talked to afterward.
“We’re here because of them, but they are thanking us. They’re awesome!”
What’s happening on SaturdayThe biggest event of the weekend is the Cortez Veterans Day Parade, which will begin at 1 p.m. on Montezuma Avenue. Organizer Rick Torres said more than 20 organizations have signed up to participate.The procession will begin at the intersection of North Chestnut Street and West Montezuma Avenue and go east to the Harrison Street intersection.Anyone who wishes to join the parade can sign up by calling Torres at 970-564-2779 or posting a message on the Montezuma County Veteran Services Facebook page.Montezuma CountyThe Ute Mountain Casino restaurant, at 3 Weeminuche Drive in Towaoc, will offer a free roast beef sandwich to those with military identification from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Entrance to Mesa Verde National Park will be free on Saturday and Sunday.Southwest Memorial Hospital, 1311 N. Mildred Road, will offer free breakfast and lunch to veterans and their families in the cafeteria on and Saturday. Visitors are asked to enter the hospital through the west side of the campus because of construction.The Cortez American Legion Hall, 320 N. Harrison St., will offer free breakfast to veterans on Saturday starting about 7 a.m. For more information, call 970-565-8151.Lunch will be served at the Cortez Elks Lodge, 2100 N. Dolores Road, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The meal will be free for all active and retired service members and their significant others. Other family members and friends can email@example.com