Article published November 6, 2006
Service to country isn't forgotten
Students support the meaning of veterans day


MONROE - After spending two months planning a Veterans Day event, Karolyn Wojtowicz started to worry that it wouldn't go the way she envisioned.

What if the building's locked? What if the microphones aren't there? What if no one shows up?

But her fears were put to rest at the end of yesterday's 30-minute-long program that featured not one person over age 18.

"The microphone didn't work as well as it could have, but everything else went smoothly," said Karolyn, a 17-year-old Monroe High School senior. The program, "Students Salute: A Veterans Day Program," was the highlight of Karolyn's Girl Scout Gold Award project.

She said she scheduled her event nearly a week before Veterans Day, which is this Saturday, so the program wouldn't overlap with any other area events.

And Karolyn decided early on to only ask youths to participate in the program.

"It made the program really unique," she said. "This wasn't an adult's idea that incorporated some students. It said we, as students, support our troops."

One student sang the "Star Spangled Banner" while another crooned "God Bless America." The Treble Youth Choir from the River Raisin Centre for the Arts gave its inaugural performance during the event, concluding its portion with each child waving a small American flag while singing "You're a Grand Old Flag."

The Monroe County Young Marines presented the colors, and Jessica Pershing, a freshman at Monroe Community College who won third place in the 2006 Michigan's Voice of Democracy contest, read her award-winning speech about freedom.

And the Monroe High School auditorium, where the program took place, was full of about 100 parents and community members and several local veterans, who had the opportunity to stand up and be honored with a loud round of applause.

"I felt honored," said Bob Krueger of Monroe, who served in the U.S. Navy for two years until 1946. "And I was honored to serve my county, too."

Before and after the event, audience members were encouraged to write a message onto a six-inch denim square cut from jeans to give to Operation: Quiet Comfort, a nonprofit organization established to honor and comfort injured members of the U.S. armed forces.

Once 96 squares are collected, they're sewn together to make a blanket for a wounded soldier.

Messages written on some of the squares included, "Dear defenders of freedom, thank you for peace of mind" and "Being a soldier isn't easy, but it's rewarding. Remember, America supports her troops!"

Some events planned locally for Veterans Day include:

Bowling Green - Video clips of interviews with local veterans will be shown at 7 tonight in the first-floor meeting room of the Wood County District Public Library.

Bryan - A Veterans Day banquet will begin with a 5 p.m. social hour Saturday at the Bryan Eagles banquet facility. Mary Fackler Schiavo, lead litigator for families who lost loved ones during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, will give the keynote address, "What really happened on 9/11." Tickets are $35.

Elmore - American Legion Post 279 will dedicate the new Veterans Memorial at 11 a.m. Saturday. The memorial is in Veterans Park at Rice and Fremont streets.

McComb - Retired military Sgt. Dana Bowman, a double amputee and motivational speaker, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of McComb schools, 328 South Todd St. He also plans to give presentations for students of Liberty-Benton and McComb local schools throughout the day on Friday in celebration of Veterans Day.

Toledo - The second annual veterans appreciation breakfast and fair will be Friday at Tam-O-Shanter Sports and Exhibition Center, 7060 Sylvania Ave., Sylvania. The events, presented by the United Way of Greater Toledo, Lucas County commissioners, and Veterans Service Commission, begin with the breakfast and fair at 7 a.m. The fair runs through noon.

Faded and damaged American flags can be turned in at The Andersons stores at Talmadge Road and Monroe Street in Toledo; on Illinois Avenue in Maumee, and at the Woodville Mall, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday.

Contact Erika Ray at: or 419-724-6088.