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Songs for Veterans Day

From left, Karen McNeel and Sylvia Bernauer sing a song with the Redmond Senior Chorus last Friday afternoon to honor veterans at the Redmond Senior Center.  - Andy Nystrom / Reporter
From left, Karen McNeel and Sylvia Bernauer sing a song with the Redmond Senior Chorus last Friday afternoon to honor veterans at the Redmond Senior Center.
— image credit: Andy Nystrom / Reporter

Redmond Senior Center, Faith Lutheran School hold events to honor veterans

As six veterans and one active-duty United States Army major entered the church at Faith Lutheran School of Redmond last Friday morning, the grade-school students watched in awe as the men — some wearing uniforms — were precise with each step and movement they made.

Over at the Redmond Senior Center that afternoon, a throng of veterans were among the people in the crowd who listened intently to readings (“Remembrance Day” was one) and songs sung by a chorus and played by a swing big band (“When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” and “Armed Forces March” were two tunes).

Two different events, but both to commemorate Veterans Day, which was marked on the calendar on Nov. 11.

At Faith Lutheran, 91-year-old Harvey Tollfeldt, a former member of the Air Force who flew a B-24 plane in World War II, summed up his feelings about Veterans Day: “I recognize that all of these guys have served in the military and have given an important part of their life.”

While Tollfeldt told his story to the students, he proudly held a framed picture of his plane.

William Hayden, a retired United States Navy commander, led the Faith Lutheran program and discussed the five military branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard) and the importance of the American flag.

“Millions of people around the world look at the American flag as a symbol of hope and they want to be able to have the freedoms that we have in this country,” said Hayden, whose son, Harrison, attends the school. Charles Bovey, the active-duty attendee who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, is also a member of the Faith Lutheran community with his family.

In addition to listening to Hayden and the others, students participated by singing “America the Beautiful,” “America” and “God Bless America” and presenting handmade paper and tissue red poppies (a symbol of sacrifice to honor veterans who served and died for their country in all wars) to the men at the event.

School vice principal Carol Wright noted that the children also assembled Thanksgiving baskets filled with toiletries, cookies, CDs and more to be sent to veterans who are serving in Afghanistan and around the world.

“We have a lot of servicemen from Faith Lutheran Church, we have military families as teachers here. This is just a part of who we are in honoring the folks that have served so that we can have the joy of sleeping comfortably at night,” said Wright, who added that the students also wrote letters that will be sent to veterans.

Added Hayden, a Microsoft senior attorney in legal and corporate affairs: “I think it’s really important that we let our children know how many Americans have volunteered and sacrificed to make sure we have freedoms in this country, have great elections like we had (last) week and the freedoms that aren’t known in other parts of the world.”

Sixth-grader William Mukerjee started and completed the event by presenting and retiring the American flag. He used to be a member of the youth Civil Air Patrol and said being close to the men in their uniforms was a memorable experience.

Mukerjee discussed the importance of Veterans Day: “It means that you’re saying thanks to the soldiers who fought — and some died.”

According to a City of Redmond press release, Redmond is home for close to 400 military veterans, men and women who represent all eras of military service including World War II, the Korean War, Viet Nam, the first Gulf War and the current battles in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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