by Steve Peterson
Hawarden American Legion Post 254 members presented a Veterans Day assembly at West Sioux Elementary School for Grades 2-5 on Nov. 12.
Teacher Renae Brown also sang “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood.
Legion member Larry Bauder was the first speaker and talked about the Legion organization.
“The Legion stands behind its members on issues that are most important. The American Legion’s success depends entirely on local memberships and volunteers. The organization belongs to the people it serves,” said Bauder.
Hawarden American Legion Commander Dallas Huebner, the next speaker, spoke on flag etiquette.
“The flag is the symbol to be respected at all times. There have been many wars fought over it to keep our colors in play. The history of the flag is it started in 1775, and the first flag was before the Declaration of Independence with the 13 colonies. We weren’t totally separated from England at that time, and the stars were for Saint George and Saint Andrew, the same as the English flag.
In 1777, we got our own flag with 13 stripes and 13 stars in a circle, he said. That flag was adopted on June 14, 1777. Shortly thereafter Vermont and Kentucky became states. In 1795, it was determined that flags should have 15 stars and 13 stars. That lasted until April, 1818, and the flag only had 13 stripes and as many stars as states.
“The flag can flown at all times at all public buildings; it can be flown 24 hours a day, but only during daytime hours are preferred. If you hang it cross-ways, the blue, or the stars, called the Union, that will have to be in the upper-left hand corner. The Union always has to be to the left of the staff.
“Respect for the flag is very important. You should stand up still when it comes by in a parade and gentlemen should take off their caps. You put the bill so your hand will be over your heart. That is what you do when you see the flag, or the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Our flag will always take priority. It’s always the higher one. The only exception is military church service when the church flag could be higher.
“Make sure the flag is never touching the ground. That is proper respect for a flag. A flag should never be in clothing except policemen and firemen can wear it,” said Huebner.
“We will fold the flag like we do at military funerals. We have done this way too many times. Our veterans, from World War II, are dying at a fast rate. At one time we were the young kids. Our Sergeant-At-Arms, Ron DeBoer, gives a flag to families of a deceased veteran at military services. It’s hard for us to do this but it is something as veterans we do because we honor their memory,” said American Legion member Roger Johnson.
“We put three spent shell cases in the flag at military funerals representing for servicemen: duty, honor and country. For religious they represent Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” said DeBoer.
After the ceremony students made messages of thanks to area veterans at nursing homes and the Veterans Affairs facility in Sioux Falls, S.D.
West Sioux High School and Middle School had Veterans Day programs on Nov. 13. Three area personnel in the military, Jason Knueven, Grant Van Beek and Josh Pickner answered questions from students.