MARSHALL - Their voices and experiences were all different. But the message from community members gathered for the Veterans Day program in Marshall on Monday morning was the same: "Thank you for your service."
Marshall area residents gathered to observe Veterans Day in a ceremony held at the Adult Community Center. This year's program didn't have one main keynote speaker. Instead, the audience heard from a variety of speakers, including Marshall High School students who attended Boys State and Girls State, and area veterans themselves.
"Without you, we clearly would not be here today," said MHS student Sydney Hey, addressing area veterans in the audience. "Each one of you is part of the reason America is a great country."
Photo by Deb Gau
Area residents, including many veterans, saluted the American Flag during opening ceremonies at a Veterans Day program at the Adult Community Center in Marshall on Monday.
Boys' and Girls' State attendees including Hey, Joey Hulsizer, Thomas Wyatt-Yerka and Troy Timmerman said their experiences at the events gave them a better perspective on how American government works. But, Wyatt-Yerka said, "I also left with a greater appreciation for the veterans in our nation and our state."
Some of the students' words of appreciation for area veterans were very personal. Timmerman shared part of an essay he wrote to apply for the Samsung American Legion Scholarship. This fall, Timmerman was selected as one of nine recipients of a $20,000 college scholarship. The Samsung American Legion Scholarship program was started in 1995 with a gift from the South Korean electronics company Samsung, as a gesture of appreciation for American veterans who served in the Korean War.
In the essay, Timmerman shared memories of his cousin 1st Lt. Jason Timmerman, a National Guard member who in 2005 was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, while he was assisting injured soldiers. Two other soldiers, Sgt. Jesse Lhotka of Alexandria and Staff Sgt. David Day of St. Louis Park, were also killed.
"Seldom in life do we have an opportunity to meet a true role model," Timmerman said. He was 5 years old when Jason Timmerman joined the National Guard, and he looked up to him. "I remember seeing him in his fatigues and feeling proud of him."
Timmerman said news of Jason's death was "devastating" for him and his family, but he wanted to live up to the example Jason set.
"He spent his entire life serving others," Troy Timmerman said. "I want to serve others, I want to be a leader, and I want to have a strong faith in God like he did."
Timmerman said he plans to continue his education and hopes to be a NASA engineer someday.
"Thank you all for your service to our country. I appreciate my freedom," Timmerman told veterans in the audience.
Later in the program, Marshall American Legion Commander Jeff Gay encouraged area veterans to share some of their service histories and experiences. Among those who got up to speak, memories of basic training, and having family members in the military, stood out.
"They're a very tight group, military families, as well as military personnel," Gay said.
Quentin Brunsvold, who served in Iraq with his father and brother as part of the National Guard unit from Marshall, said Troy Timmerman's essay "brought back tons of memories from when I was overseas." He said the sacrifices of soldiers like Jason Timmerman should not be forgotten.
"We will never forget them, ever," Brunsvold said. To the veterans gathered Monday, he said, "Thank you for your service and welcome home."