Veterans Day Services in Pinedale
21 Rifle Salute
At the Veterans Memorial in the American Legion Park in Pinedale.
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
November 11, 2021
Veterans Day programs were held at Pinedale Elementary, Middle and High School on Thursday, November 11, 2021, as well as a public program in the Sheppard Auditorium.
American Legion Post 47 held a program at the Veterans Memorial in the American Legion Park early in the morning. The program included a 21 rifle salute. A large crowd braved the 23F degree weather and snowflakes for the outside program.
The public program was held at 11:00AM in the Sheppard Auditorium. The Pinedale High School Combined Choirs sang the "Star Spangled Banner" and the Pinedale High School Wrangler Chorale sang "I Hear Liberty Singing". The choirs were directed by Gregory Allen.
Phil Vrska (US Marines) led the Posting of the Colors at the beginning and end of the program. The Invocation was by Chaplain Randy Belton (US Marines).
Michael Edison, Commander, American Legion Post 47 said, "We celebrate and honor those who have been willing to sacrifice and serve their country."
Keynote speakers were Andrea Lewis, Post Historian (US Army) and Rachel Robinson, Constitution (US Army). Ms. Lewis, who is now the Curator at the Museum of the Mountain Man, has taken on the project of trying to identify the names of veterans in Sublette County who have been killed during the war. Several names have been quite well known, but she found 18 more during her intensive research to add to the list. She asked if anyone in the community knows of other veterans who should be added to the list, to please contact her.
Rachel Robison reprised her former role as a Drill Sergeant in the U.S. Army. She had the audience stand and a line of students were brought onto the stage and each given a large letter which all together formed the words "THIS WE’LL DEFEND". The students got to do some bending squats while holding the letters and reading the wording on the back of the large cards. The readings related to our freedoms, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. "Yes Drill Sergeant!"
Students who recently attended Boys and Girls State as delegates gave brief talks about their experiences. Boys State Delegates were Zach Maxam and Zane Hayward. Girls state Delegates were Janae Arne, Katie LaBuda, Alena Mika, and Emmaline Vrska.
Zach Maxam said his experience at Boys State was beyond words. "Throughout the week I had experiences that will never be forgotten. One thing that stuck out to me was communication. If you want better communication, it starts with the actions we do now."
Zane Hayward commented that he took little into the experience, "but came out with a lot."
Janae Arne said her favorite day was when they got to go to the State Capitol.
Katie LaBuda was candid in saying "like many of you I had no idea how our government works." She added, "Girls State helped me to take risks and develop confidence. I learned how important the individual is in our government. This taught me it takes teamwork to make progress."
Alena Mika said Girls State gave her a first-hand experience on how our government works. "It was an awesome experience to see where things happen."
Emmaline Vrska confessed, "To be honest, I didn’t really want to go." But after the week was through, she said it was an "amazing experience."
Phil Vrska wrapped up the Boys and Girls State presentations by saying the American Legion offers about $3,000 per year in scholarships. He added the personal note asking people to remember that when veterans come home they carry the scars of war with them. These men and women have been willing to stand for us and to protect our freedoms. He encouraged people to reach out to veterans and let them know their service is appreciated, and be sure to see how they are doing. Some soldiers died in the battles of war; others died later, after coming home, from the nightmares of those experiences and tragically were lost to suicide.
Windy Noble (VFW Auxiliary) gave Student Awards presentations for the Voice of Democracy essay contest. 2nd Place award went to Bryson Vrska with a $100 award. 1st place went to his sister Emmaline. Windy noted that Emmaline has been in the contest all four years and has placed all four years. In addition to her award, she was presented with a bouquet of patriotic flowers.
Michael Edison, Commander, American Legion Post 47 (US Army), gave out two Community Awards. The first was to Jamison Ziegler and the Sublette County School District #1 Board of Trustees. It was a Freedom Award, in part given for their willingness to stand their ground for the students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The second community award was to Dawn Ballou and Pinedale Online for supporting Americanism in our community and the 1st Amendment to a Free Press.
The Pinedale High School Concert Band played "Purple Mountain Majesty" for their musical selection. The band was directed by Justin Smith.
During the final moment of silence, "Taps" was performed by Timothy Hosler (All National Honor Band).