THOMSON, Ill. — On Friday, West Carroll Intermediate students honored area veterans with a music program.

Veterans from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Korean War Veterans Association, AMVETS and other veterans associations from Thomson, Fulton, Savanna, Mount Carroll, Clinton, Camanche, Bettendorf and Maquoketa attended the musical presentation from 1:15 to 2 p.m. in the West Carroll Intermediate School Gymnasium, 801 South St., in Thomson.

West Carroll Intermediate Music Director Matthew Beck welcomed those in attendance to the program and said that Veterans Day is “a special time to pause, reflect and honor the sacrifice veterans have made.”

Beck offered a special thank you to the veterans in attendance and introduced the program’s guest speaker, William Wright, a former U.S. Army soldier who was a member of the First Infantry Division, a division instrumental in winning World War II. Wright spent 35 years in the Savanna School District and served as a teacher, coach, principal and district superintendent during that time, being named Illinois High School Principal of the Year in 1995.

Wright offered a thank you to the students for taking the time to honor area veterans and invited the audience to stand up and applaud the students for their hard work.

As a former social studies teacher, Wright gave a brief history of how Veterans Day began and remarked that the tradition of proudly fighting for one’s country continues today with the brave men and women overseas.

Wright asked everyone at the program to say thank you to a veteran in honor of their service.

“Take the time and simply say to them, thanks for serving our country,” Wright said. “I can guarantee you that it will bring a good feeling to them inside.”

Wright then read from a speech that President Bill Clinton gave at Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day in 2000, which noted that “none who ever served, sacrificed in vain” because they kept the torch of freedom burning and “each and every one are heroes.”

The West Carroll Intermediate Choir sang “Fly High, You Grand Old Flag” and students Brianna Robertson and Liesl Meador read the poem “Thank You For the Gift of Life” by Barry Taylor. Emily Legel and Tori Keister offered their thanks to area veterans and then the students played “Amazing Graze” on recorders.

The fifth-grade choirchime ensemble performed “America, the Beautiful” and the fifth-grade boomwhacker ensemble performed “You’re A Grand Old Flag.” Students Demi Hess and Destiney Donavan proclaimed their pride in the red, white and blue and Ashleigh Olson offered her thanks to veterans. Alexis Kosier, Chloe Carson and Kalli Wilson read a poem entitled “Veterans Forever” and read a thank you letter.

The fifth-grade choirchime ensemble played “America” and students Karley Metz and Haley Appel offered special piano performances. Then the intermediate choir and the fifth-grade drumming ensemble performed “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Following the presentation of handmade gifts the students made in their classrooms in recent weeks, the intermediate choir sang “Build Me A World,” which was followed by a moment of silence. West Carroll High School band members Brad Highland and Rebeccah Yuswak played “Taps” on their trumpets and the entire crowd rose while the Color Guard retired the colors.

After the presentation, many people stopped to view the military artifacts on display at the event and joined the veterans for punch, coffee and cookies in the cafeteria.

Wright said he thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and was impressed by the students.

“I thought it was great. The kids did an outstanding job. All the veterans here today are very appreciative of the kids inviting us out for this,” Wright said.

Marine Sgt. Justin Rettenberger of Hazel Green, Wis., who stood when the assembly recognized those in attendance who are on active duty, attended the presentation because his cousin, fifth-grader Abby Boyer, performed.

“It was excellent. I really appreciate things like this. The whole performance was great,” Rettenberger said. “It just really makes you proud.”

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