By Jason Schock
Veterans Day in Falls City is always a special event – the late Marshall Maddox, a 30-year Army Veteran, made it that way and his wife, Sherry, with help from Veterans organizations, continues to make it so.
Tuesday, Nov. 11, was no exception. Flags were flying, bands were playing and young people were singing. The gymnasium at Falls City High School was filled Monday morning with those who wanted to honor those who serve, and have served, their country with honor and distinction. Richardson County boasts a proud military and service to country tradition that is acknowledged at this time of year, every year.
Mrs. Maddox introduced keynote speaker Dr. Adrian Lewis, a retired Army major and Professor at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. He spoke at the 11 a.m. program at Falls City High School and again at 7 p.m. at the Stalder Gallery at the Falls City Library and Art Center. The latter program was the opening in the Gallery of the John P. Falter’s original paintings of seven World War II Medal of Honor winners.
Dr. Lewis’ talk at the Gallery was streamed to the veterans’ dinner at the First United Methodist Church.
“Today is a day that we recognize honor and thank the many men and women of the armed forces of the United States — those who served and sacrificed, those who contribute to our freedom and the way of life we enjoy,” Dr. Lewis said at FC High School.
“The world that you live in today is shaped by the world wars that we have fought and the sacrifices that many have made.”
A world-renowned expert on World War II, Dr. Lewis’ writings include his first book, “Omaha Beach: A Flawed Victory.” This work is considered the best analysis of the Normandy invasion of June 6, l944, and the horrific Battle for Omaha Beach. Dr. Lewis has taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of North Texas at Denton. His books and articles are used at West Point, the Command General Staff College and the Naval War College. He was a major consultant for PBS’s NOVA program, “D-Day’s Sunken Secrets.”
Working with active duty Army and Air Force officers, Dr. Lewis specializes in World War II, as mentioned, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and the more recent military operations, including Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I want you to understand that the U.S. Army can take somebody and they can train them; we can give them the best training and best equipment in the world but that’s not how you make a good American — the way you make a good American is what we are doing right now. What we need for you to do is to be connected to something,” Dr. Lewis said. “To realize where you are and understand the significance of it. A state is a political institution, a nation is a cultural institution, but it is people who are cohesive, people who are connected. You have to recognize where you came from and that it is valuable and that it requires sometimes for some of us to protect it to ensure that it will continue,” he said.
The program at the high school included numbers by the FCHS band and chorus and Sacred Heart chorus.
“I continue to be proud of our FC High and FC Sacred Heart students as they showed their respect for our veterans during the morning program,” Mrs. Maddox writes in a “Sez I” that appears on Page 3 of today’s Journal.
“The joint choruses of FCHS and FC Sacred Heart High School, directed by Mr. Wesley Farewell, FCSH Director and accompanied by Mrs. Alisha Sutton, FCHS Director, did a wonderful job of singing the ‘Armed Forces Medley’. The FC High School Band, under the direction of Mr. Kent Stutheit, performed the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ during the posting of the colors and ‘Main Street America’ for the retirement of the colors,” Mrs. Maddox said.
The 1:30 p.m. parade down Stone Street included veterans’ organizations’ color guards, and the Falls City High School Band, but the breeze was too brisk for the younger students.
“Our students from North, South, Middle and Sacred Heart Schools were not able to participate due to the wind chills and we look forward to them being back next year,” Maddox said. “Thank you to the FCHS marching band for being in their uniforms and marching in the parade.”
A reception honoring veterans was held at ShopKo following the parade. The Stalder Gallery at the Library and Art Center was open for one hour following the parade.
The busy day concluded with the veterans’ dinner at the First United Methodist Church and the Falter Exhibit at the library.
“I give a special thank you to Christina Wertenberger, Lori Gottula and Rita Seid for their help in coordinating and publicizing this event,” Mrs. Maddox said.
“The Falls City Veterans Day Celebration recognizes with appreciation each and every veteran for his or her service to our country. Thank you to all our veterans!,” she concluded.