Wall of Honor

By: Stacy Eckes
By: Stacy Eckes

Elementary students are finding their own unique way to honor veterans. In fact, one student even found out his great-great-great grandpa served in the Civil War.

At the Maple Grove Elementary School in the Merrill School District, students and teachers built a wall of honor.

Each star on the wall has a name of a grandpa, dad or even a neighbor who fought in a war.

A group of local veterans, with their names on the wall of honor, also came to visit with the students on Veterans Day.

"It makes you feel proud that some people still realize and think about us veterans,” said Alvin Steffenhagen, a Korean War veteran.

Fourth grader, Justin Bloch, has a family with at least one veteran in each generation, s service and sacrifice that started back in the 1860's.

"My great-great-great grandpa who served in the Civil War and I never knew about him,” Justin said.

Kenneth Bloch is Justin's grandpa. He served in the Korean Conflict. His wife also has four brothers who are veterans. All of their names are on the school's wall of honor.

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Origins of Veterans Day

  • In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This site, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River and the city of Washington, became the focal point of reverence for America's veterans.

  • Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried in each nation's highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe).

  • These memorial gestures all took place on Nov. 11, giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month).

  • The day became known as "Armistice Day.” Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional resolution.

  • It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar Congressional action. If the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was "the War to end all Wars," November 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But, only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe.

  • Sixteen and one-half million Americans took part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.

  • Realizing that peace was equally preserved by veterans of WW II and Korea, Congress was requested to make this day an occasion to honor those who have served America in all wars. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.

  • The focal point for official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day continues to be the memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. At 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes "Present Arms" at the tomb.

  • The nation's tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the laying of a presidential wreath. The bugler plays "taps." The rest of the ceremony takes place in the amphitheater.

Source: www.vfw.org contributed to this report.

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