Veterans Day events in Steamboat celebrate those who served |

Veterans Day events in Steamboat celebrate those who served

Jack Weinstein

Soda Creek Elementary School fifth-grader Ellie Kavanaugh hands flowers to veterans Jim Stanko, left, Gar Williams, right, and active-duty U.S. Army soldier Mike Buchan during a Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday at Soda Creek. Buchan has been on leave and returns to Afghanistan today.

— At the beginning of Soda Creek Elementary School's annual Veterans Day program Wednesday, each veteran stood up to introduce himself or herself.

But it wasn't an easy task for Ty Upson, a Marine who served tours in 2003 and 2006 in Iraq.

"It's not very Marine-like to show emotion, but I could barely speak," he said.

Upson added that it was just nice to know that people remember what goes on.

"It comes at a price, and it's not free," he said. Upson said he was "blown away" by the students' program.

More than 50 local veterans from the Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps attended the program, in which Soda Creek's 81 fifth-graders performed. Some veterans had family members who attend the school. Others didn't, but they joined fellow members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4262 or American Legion Post No. 44.

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Students sang songs during the program. They recited "thank you" messages to the vets. Fifth-graders Ellie Kavanaugh and Gillian Cook prepared a slide show including photographs of local vets.

"I think it's important we let the vets know they're special," Ellie said. "They need to be recognized because they served our country."

Soda Creek Principal Judy Harris said the school has been doing the program, which the students have worked on since the first week of school, for about eight years. Many Steamboat Springs Police Department officers and Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue emergency personnel also attended the program. She said its purpose went beyond honoring veterans.

That purpose is "to signify the importance of the day and to instill a pride of country and sacrifice to our country in our kids," she said.

At the Doak Walker Care Center, a reception was held for the 15 residents who had served in the military or were auxiliary members or volunteers.

Local vet Jim Stanko, who served in the Army, helped organize the first visit with Doak veterans six or seven years ago. He said it allowed local vets to spend time with and thank those who served before them.

"These are special people here," said Bob McConnell, a retired colonel who served 30 years in the Army. "This is the greatest generation. We owe them — anything we can do to recognize their service."

Doak resident Joanne Cannon, 94, was a lab technician for the Navy Medical Corps from 1944 to 1945. Veterans Day took Cannon back to her service.

"It brought back a lot of memories that had been hidden for a long time," she said. "It brought me back to the good old time."

Leif Myhre, a Navy lieutenant, served in operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. His daughter, Hallie, a fifth-grader at Soda Creek who participated in the program for vets, accompanied him to Doak.

"We shouldn't forget the sacrifice these guys made for us," he said. "We just wanted to be there to honor them and let them know in person we care."

Hallie said she understood the significance of the day.

"I think it's a good opportunity because my dad is a vet," she said. "It's nice to meet people who served in war."

Other schools across Routt County also honored vets. A Lowell Whiteman Primary School parent gave a presentation about serving in the military.

Stanko gave a presentation Wednesday afternoon at North Routt Community Charter School.

South Routt Elementary School in Yampa held an assembly in honor of Veterans Day. Hayden Middle School also had an assembly and invited local vets to stay for lunch.

After the presentation at Soda Creek, Marine Bob Grippa stood holding a red carnation — a gift from the students to show the vets their appreciation.

"It brings tears to my eyes when kids do something like that because you know someone really cares. They really care what you do," said Grippa, who served in the Vietnam War. "It makes you feel what you did was worth doing."

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203

or e-mail

Doak residents who served or volunteered

Joanne Cannon, Navy Medical Corps

Rosa Default, Ladies Auxiliary

Alice Ebbing, USO volunteer

Elmer “Junior” Fogg, Army

Bud Goddard, Army

George Hart, Army

Al Ligons, Tuskegee Airmen

Don Lufkin, Navy

Gordon Miles, Navy

Elvin Miles, Navy Reserves

Robert Price, Marines

Lyle Richens, Army

Lila Rider, VFW Auxiliary

Marvin Shively, Air Force

Emmett Van Cleave, Army

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