More than 70 veterans attended a patriotic all-school assembly Monday morning at Great Bend High School. The Veterans Day program included the GBHS band performing “The Star Spangled Banner” and a musical salute to each branch of the Armed Forces; a medley of patriotic songs by the GBHS orchestra; and the Madrigals singing, “I’m Proud to be an American.”
Recalling the words of the song, guest speaker Daniel Holinde said, “All of these veterans over here, I will gladly stand up with every one of you."
Holinde, a 2006 graduate of Great Bend High School, enlisted in the Army Reserves, reporting to the New Century, Kan., Army Reserve Center before being deployed to Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was stationed at Camp Arifjan and served as an 88M truck driver. He told the students that, after training, he left the United States with the 129th Transportation Company at midnight on July 5, 2008, and arrived in Kuwait at midnight on July 7. It was like walking into an oven.
“It was 110 degrees at midnight,” he said. During his time in the Middle East, Holinde served on 17 missions — 16 in Iraq and one in Kuwait, and his group drove 20,000 miles. He came home in 2009 and stayed in the Reserves until he was honorably discharged in 2014.
GBHS Social Studies teacher Denny Lewis was the emcee for the Veterans Day program, which included a color guard and participation from the American Legion, American Legion Riders and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Lewis read the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” and then “Taps” was played before the students were dismissed to their classes. Several stopped on the way out the shake hands with some of the visiting veterans.
The veterans were invited to stay for coffee and doughnuts or breakfast casserole in the GBHS Commons Area. Members of Carol Pfannenstiel’s government class served the breakfast and visited with veterans.
The halls of Great Bend High School were lined with posters, signed by students, thanking veterans for their service.