Patriotic pause

The CFHS Veterans Day program was, as always, met with enthusiasm by the student body.

Former+CF+Schools+superintendent+Beth+Giese%2C+an+Army+veteran%2C+gives+the+Veterans+Day+address

Morgan Kasa

Former CF Schools superintendent Beth Giese, an Army veteran, gives the Veterans Day address

Third hour is usually characterized by empty halls and muffled voices from within classrooms; however, in honor of Veteran’s Day, on November 16 CFHS students found themselves packed into the high school gym. Surrounded by a symphony of shoes squeaking against the sticky wood floor, the clanking of metal chairs as veteran guests took their seats, and excited chattering at the prospect of missing class, students found themselves in the midst of a longstanding tradition at Cannon Falls High School.

Originally, the Veteran’s Day program was scheduled for November 11, Veteran’s Day, but due to the Bomber volleyball team’s advancement to state, the vast majority of students were at the Xcel Center in Saint Paul during the school day, resulting in the postponement of the Veteran’s day program to November 16. Although Veteran’s Day is typically accompanied by an abundance of veterans in the high school, that was not the case this year. Unfortunately, due to the combination of date change and COVID risk, the veterans, who come from Cannon Rivers Senior Living and the local nursing home, were unable to attend.

Members of the Cannon Falls VFW are central figures in the Veterans Day celebration at CFHS (Morgan Kasa)

The program commenced with the entrance of the local Color Guard, after which the band played the national anthem with the choir singing in the background. Upon being met by a round of applause, the band took a seat as the choir went on to sing “ American Anthem.” Spoken by all those in attendance, the Pledge of Allegiance was then recited before the day’s guest speaker could be introduced.

Beth Giese, a former superintendent of the Cannon Falls school district and US Army veteran, gave a speech on the meaning of being a soldier. Within her speech, Giese gave a shoutout to several members of the senior class who are bound for the armed forces. Heading to the National Guard are seniors Colton Loeshke and Bailey Dwyer-Schacht while seniors Xavier Brechtel, Gabe Hepola, Aaron Roller, and Ben Cooper will all be joining the Marine Corps. When asked about his decision to enter the service, destined Marine Xavier Brechtel said that “I wanted to use my abilities to do something productive, and I could not see a better way to do that than enlisting in the Marine Corps. I believe that this country needs to have pride and confidence in its principles, and that there must always be people willing to give their lives to protect and defend the United States of America.” 

Though not in direct attendance, those in the CF Elementary School watched the program on a broadcast filmed by a tripod camera. Succeeding the conclusion of Giese’s speech, which was met by much applause, a video was shown to attendees, both in-person and virtual, of every Cannon Falls veteran. Many recognized cousins, siblings, grandparents and other relatives and friends in the slideshow, students and teachers alike. Kirsten Hoffman, CFHS’s studnet counselor, recognized many veterans, expressing that “My Uncle Pat was in the Vietnam war and my father was in the Army Reserve. I am so thankful for those who serve and the sacrifices all soldiers make for our country and our freedom. I recognized a lot of names and pictures in the slideshow today.” Thanks to a long history of veterans in Cannon Falls, the video spanned the course of three very patriotic songs – God Bless the USA and Wind Beneath My Wings by Lee Greenwood and I’m An American Soldier by Toby Keith.

We all know someone who is a veteran, so it’s really nice to think about their sacrifice every year on Veteran’s Day”

— Teagan Strecker

The video’s conclusion usually means launching straight into the concert band’s version of the Armed Forces Medley, but this year, local veterans had a surprise presentation for Giese. She was given a Gulf War pin and awarded the Challenger medal by Congresswoman Angie Craig, both of which were given to her by local vet and former CF Ag teacher John Hobert. Then, after a performance of the Armed Forces Medley during which each veteran stood up upon hearing the song of their branch, the Color Guard exited and students made their way back to class.

Veteran’s Day spirit shouldn’t end with the program, despite the fact that the focus on Veteran’s only comes around once a year. As junior Teagan Strecker puts it, “We all know someone who is a veteran, so it’s really nice to think about their sacrifice every year on Veteran’s Day; especially when we don’t always think about their contributions when associating with them in everyday life.”