Solemnity and sacrifice: Park High School thanks veterans
The lights dimmed, drums sounded and a bagpipe keened at the start of the Nov. 10 Veterans Day ceremony in the Park High School gym.
Wolfpack Air Force Junior ROTC MN-871 presented the 11th annual program. Park senior and cadet Alisia Johnson, 17, sang "God Bless the USA," while accompanying herself on guitar.
Vietnam veterans in attendance included Bud Schmidt and Ervin Schlorf of Cottage Grove and Jed Swenson of Woodbury. Korean War veteran Mel Hottman also attended.
It was the first Veterans Day event at Park for Junior ROTC commander Darrell Lockhart, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel. He moved to Cottage Grove from Florida to take the position.
"I got nothing but praise for the cadets and the way they conducted themselves," he said.
This year, they invited local veterans to stand and as their name and rank were read.
"It's about recognizing those among us," Lockhart said.
Sgt. 1st Class James Brewer with the Minnesota Army National Guard duly stood when his name was called. But he deferred commenting to his older comrades.
"Go talk to the older guys," he said afterward. "They're the real veterans."
Attendees also included Deborah McBride of Woodbury, a retired Air Force colonel and nurse, and Steve Campos of Cottage Grove, a retired chief master sergeant with the Minnesota Air National Guard. The Air Force Junior ROTC also held a 12-hour vigil at the Park flagpole for the seventh year in a row. On Friday afternoon, cadets released balloons with poppies attached with the names of veterans who have died as a finale to the vigil.