LEXINGTON — Veterans Day did not go by unnoticed in Lexington, across the community there were several events to honor those who put on the uniform and served the nation as members of the armed forces.
While it was their mission to serve, it is the nation’s responsibility to remember.
The Heartland Military Museum was the site of one of the Veterans Day events in the community. At the eleventh hour, a bell was rung eleven times, a way to remember the end of the First World War.
Members of Pinnacle Bank, served coffee and donuts to those who attended the event, Terry Lauby started off the ceremonies by recognizing the veterans in the room, including World War II veteran Wilbur Rupke.
Lexington High School teacher and National Honor Society organizer and veteran, Mike Zarate, spoke about how the NHS stepped into the role of assisting with the Veterans Day events at the Heartland.
This year, NHS members and Zarate interviewed veterans from the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and asked them questions about their service, their favorite memories of their time, the hard memories and how they felt being called heroes or thanked for their service.
To a man, the veterans declined the title of heroes, they all insisted they had simply done a job they were asked to do.
“Hero should be reserved for others,” one vet said, another commented after being asked about the hero title, “I’m not.”
Yet many expressed a feeling of pride when they were thanked for their service.
“There is some pride, you feel like you accomplished what was your duty,” one veteran responded, “Most there did what they were supposed to do.”
Combat and losing comrades or friends were some of the hard memories the veterans listed. Another commented the segregation in the south bothered him the most, saying he couldn’t eat with service members who were black when they were off base.
After the video, Zarate commented on the selflessness and the humility of the veterans, “They didn’t want to take credit for anything,” he said.
Lauby said later, “It makes us feel special when we see the community standing behind us.”
Pastor Eddie Mariel of the First Presbyterian Church finished off the ceremony with an invocation.
“Thank you for the opportunity,” he said, “I hope my prayer gives honor to you (veterans).”
Later in the afternoon, the students of Lexington Middle School gathered in the auditorium for their own Veterans Day program.
A large flag on loan from the Kearney Fire Department Station One was on display in the background in the auditorium which had been hung earlier in the day by students, who were proud to have never let it once touch the ground.
After the event was started by LMS Principal Scott West, the presentation of the colors was performed by Jared Woody and the Lexington VFW.
The pledge of allegiance was done by the English Learner’s classes. English is not the first language of these students, but they stood on stage and performed the pledge along with the rest of the student body gathered.
Dawson County Veteran’s Service Coordinator Steve Zerr spoke to the students about the Dawson County Hero Flight, which LMS has helped fundraise for.
Zerr said with the communities help, they have been able to send six flights to Washington D.C. and 150 veterans to see their memorials.
“It has been life changing for these veterans,” Zerr said, “It’s not possible without public support.”
The Lexington Veterans Pavilion was also mentioned and Zerr told the students it would be a chance to honor the veterans and a chance to learn about their service.
Before Zerr could leave the stage, he was called back. He and the Hero Flight were being presented with the money made during LMS fundraising efforts. The middle school was able to present an oversized check for $262.25 to the Dawson County Hero Flight.
The winner of the Patriot Pen Award winner was announced by Jared Woody and Tony Hansen. Cooper Shotkoski earned first place and earned $100, Tucker Knauss was second and third was Aaron Hakonson.
The keynote speaker of the event was Staff Sergeant David Obermeyer, he has been a squad leader for a transportation company as well as a special needs paraeducator at Pershing and a sports coach, both here in Lexington and at the colligate level.
Obermeyer said he was mobilized in 2003, after joining the armed forces in July 2001. Part of his mission was coming up with humanitarian aid for the Iraqis who were affected by the unrest in the country.
He spoke of the importance of engaging with veterans and talking to them about their service.
The 8th grade choir performed the song, “One Great Nation,” under the direction of choir director Brian Botsford.
At the end of the ceremony, Taps was solemnly performed by Gabriel Frees.