MARSHALL - Veterans Day is a good time to pay tribute to servicemembers for sacrificing so much for this country's freedom, speakers said at the Veterans Day program Monday morning at Marshall Middle School. But respect and honor should be shown to those men and women every day of the year as well, they said.
After sharing the history of Veterans Day, beginning with the 1919 commemoration of Armistice Day to recognize World War I veterans and ending with the 1954 amendment to honor American veterans of all wars, keynote speaker Capt. David Johansson reminded everyone that, despite the belief that WWI would be "the war to end all wars," thousands of servicemembers are still fighting to defend Americans' rights and freedoms.
Among the newest generation to make sacrifices for the good of the country are Minnesota National Guard servicemembers.
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Veterans Day speakers, including Rev. Craig Timmerman and Capt. David Johansson, stand at attention as three members of the Marshall American Legion Post No. 113 retire the flags at the closing of the Veterans Day program Monday at Marshall Middle School.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 25,000 Guard members from Minnesota have been deployed to more than 30 countries worldwide, including 18 who gave the ultimate sacrifice - their life. There are also other countless servicemembers from all branches of the military service.
"Each loss is a reminder of how personal these sacrifices are," Johansson said.
There are a number of ways to honor those who died for their country and those who served in some role or another for their country, Johansson said.
"When you become of age, you can exercise your right to vote," he said. "When it comes time to have a family, you can show your respect for the colors. You can put your hand over your heart as the flag passes during a parade."
Johansson also suggested that civilians participate in Yellow Ribbon activities or events such as the LTD Ride.
"Marshall just became a Yellow Ribbon city in September," Johansson said. "Care packages are nice, too, but just helping out the families of soldiers is even better. It's a great way to show support."
One of those 18 Minnesota soldiers to die in combat since Sept. 11 was Jason Timmerman, who continues to have an impact on people even after his death in 2005.
"He didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk," Timmerman's brother, Rev. Craig Timmerman, said at the program. "He was brave. He was honorable. He was everything that a soldier should be."
In his 24 years of life, Jason Timmerman made countless impressions on others, especially in southwest Minnesota. Having grown up in the Cottonwood area, teach math in Lake Benton and living with his new bride in Tracy, he had plenty of opportunities to connect with people. It's those kinds of men and women, like his brother, who deserve to be honored and remembered as great defenders of freedom, Craig Timmerman said.
"It's because of them that we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," he said as he read Jason Timmerman's Veterans Day speech from 2003, given to a Lake Benton audience a year before he was deployed to Iraq. "It's easy to take them for granted. When someone doesn't bother to remove their hat for the National Anthem, there's a veteran still standing tall and proud. The sight of the flag is enough to make a tear come to his eye."
Craig Timmerman struggled with his own emotions as he read a tribute poem from his brother's speech.
"It is the soldier, not the minister, Who has given us freedom of religion," he read. "It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, Who gave us the freedom to protest. It is the soldier, not the lawyer, Who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the soldier, not the politician Who has given us the right to vote. It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag. And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protester to burn the flag." (Charles M. Province).
Timmerman continued by pointing out some of the ways that people can show their gratitude, such as writing a letter, keeping in contact with a soldier's loved ones, enjoying life and the rights and freedoms each person has been given and exercising one's right to vote.
A number of MMS students also read their essays during the program. The MMS band, choir and orchestra also played patriotic selections.
Sandy Carpenter, organizer and eighth-grade social studies teacher, closed out the program with some final words to everyone.
"My students were able to thank veterans (Monday), but I challenge you to thank a veteran every day."
Organized by the National Honor Society, Marshall High School celebrated its first Veterans Day program Monday morning as well. Audience members had the privilege of watching a video, listening to the National Anthem, sung by Ariel Smith, Aaron Dunn, Vincent Long and Heidi Goergen, and hearing from speaker Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lee Anderson.