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In DL, veterans will talk to students

Monday is Veteran’s Day, and this year Detroit Lakes High School is doing something unusual — inviting local veterans in to talk with small groups of students.

The day will begin with breakfast with the veterans at 7:30 a.m., followed by an all-school assembly at which the veterans will be honored. The session will also include an informational session on the Patriot Assistance Dogs program, and a five-minute video presentation on the history of Veteran’s Day.

Afterwards, each of the veterans will be meeting with a group of students in a smaller, classroom setting, to discuss their memories of serving in combat.

“Each student will have the opportunity to meet with two different veterans,” said DLHS social studies teacher Gail Kotschevar, who is one of the people that helped to organize the special event.

“The goal is to have our kids understand and appreciate the sacrifice these veterans have made, and to connect them with a part of our history.”

Kotschevar said the event was the brainchild of DLHS science teacher Paul Lakin, who is himself a combat veteran who served during the U.S. peacekeeping mission in Bosnia back in 1997.

“He said we needed to do something to acknowledge our veterans,” said Kotschevar, “and our social studies department said, ‘That’s a great idea. Let’s do something to help make these kids aware of what Veteran’s Day really is.”

Working with Becker County Veterans Service Officer Lauri Brooke, Lakin found a group of about 20 area veterans who were willing to meet with the students, and they were off and running.

“They run the gamut, from World War II to the present (veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq),” Kotschevar said.

If the inaugural session on Monday goes well, she added, they hope to make the Veteran’s Day program an annual event at DLHS.

What is Veteran’s Day?

On Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 o’clock in the morning — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year — an historic armistice was called in the war between Germany and the Allied nations, a cessation of hostilities which eventually led to the end of World War I, known at that time as “the war to end all wars.”

The following year, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11, 1919 as the first nationwide commemoration of Armistice Day — to be observed with parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business operations, beginning at 11 a.m.

In 1938, Armistice Day was proclaimed as a legal holiday by an act of Congress, and it became a day primarily set aside to honor veterans of World War I.

But in 1954, in the aftermath of World War II, the 1938 Congressional act was amended to declare Nov. 11 as Veteran’s Day, a day to honor all Armed Forces veterans. — Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454