Honoring veterans has become a tradition at Valle Catholic. Each year time is set aside to celebrate the freedoms that veterans have provided us and Valle Catholic looks forward to the time they can honor those veterans for their dedicated service in preserving that freedom.
This year’s Veterans Day Celebration began
with Mass at the Church of Ste. Genevieve on Friday, November 8, 2013. Many veterans from American Legion Post 150, VFW Post 2210 and veterans from WWII – Afghanistan were in attendance along with the entire student body of Valle Catholic School.
The celebrant, Fr. Gregory Klump, and other clergy Pastor Fr. Dennis Schmidt, Fr. Raymond Oge, and Deacon John Meere were joined by veterans who filled all the liturgical roles: Servers were Bill Tlapek and Ed Schmelzle, US Army. Readers were Larry Basler US Army and Cindy Loida USAF. Chipper Basler, US Army, was the commentator. Eucharistic Ministers were Robert Roth, US Navy and Jerome Valle, US Army. The Color Guard from VFW Post 2210 posted and retired the colors.
At the end of Mass several veterans stepped outside and completed their 3-round volleys, firing blank cartridges into the air three times. This practice stems from the 1600’s when soldiers would take breaks on battlefields to treat the injured and collect the dead. The collecting side would signal to their enemies that they were done by firing a three round volley. The practice has evolved to be used as a final goodbye to fallen military members. This was followed by a veteran playing “Taps”.
Day is done, gone the sun, From the hills, from the lake, From the skies. All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Veterans were each given a prayer card which read:
Dear Lord, Today we honor our veterans, worthy men and women who gave their best when they were called upon to serve and protect their country. We pray that you will bless them, Lord, for their unselfish service in the continual struggle to preserve our freedoms, our safety, and our country’s heritage, for all of us. Bless them abundantly for the hardships they faced, for the sacrifices they made for their many different contributions to America’s victories over tyranny and oppression. We respect them, we thank them, we honor them, we are proud of them, and we pray that you will watch over these special people and bless them with peace and happiness. In Jesus’ name we pray; Amen.
An after Communion reflection was given by Mrs. Carrie Bader Gegg who is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mrs. Gegg joined the staff of the St. Louis VA Regional Office as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in August 2007. She provides excellent services and support to Veterans as they transition from Service Member to Veteran. Mrs. Gegg received the Department of Veterans Affairs 2013 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Counselor Employee of the Year Award in a ceremony on August 9, 2103, in Denver, Colorado.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Scouts from Troop 404 escorted the veterans from their pews. The student body formed an “Honor Guard” from the doors of the church to the doors of the cafeteria where a pie and coffee reception was held for the veterans and their guests. Students cheered as the veterans walked by. Students also handed out homemade cards and pictures and also gave ‘high-fives’ to the veterans.
During the reception, Benjamin Roth, Valle Catholic sophomore, read his award winning VFW essay. Before and after the reception in the Valle Cafeteria, the veterans had a special treat on the Valle Desert.
Chris Kertz, local World War II collector and spouse of Valle Catholic teacher, Linda Kertz, had a WWII equipment for the veterans and students to view. On display was a 1941 GMC CCKW 352 especially designed with a winch and shortened wheel base for towing artillery. (CCKW is an acronym for C-designed in 1941, C-conventional cab, K-all wheel drive, and the W-tandem rear axles.) The towed artillery was a 1943 M5 3 inch antitank gun developed to counter the large German tanks in battle.