College hosted its thirteenth annual Enduring Freedom celebration on Tuesday,
November 12 in its Jane Knight Auditorium.
The event was preceded by a pancake breakfast to which all area veterans
Enduring Freedom celebration is an occasion to honor all area veterans for
their contributions to securing and ensuring the freedoms that all Americans
enjoy. The celebration included a
Presentation of Flags by the American Legion Post #1227 from Beckemeyer, IL,
which also presented a flag folding ceremony.
Speakers included Roy Aarons, who emceed the event, Robert Gaffner, who
gave the invocation, Kristin Williams, who lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and
Ken Michaels, who read the poem “Mommy, What is a Veteran?” by Linda Ellis.
Choral group, led by Dr. Sarah Graham, sang the National Anthem and a medley of
the official songs from each branch of the United States military. Audience members and participants were asked
to stand as the song from their branch was sung as a moving way to begin the
Underwood, President of KC and a Vietnam veteran, spoke briefly on patriotism,
and how it is sometimes embodied by those who are not veterans. He told the story of Steve Bryant, a student
at KC in December of 1969. According to
Dr. Underwood, a group of outside protestors came to KC with the intention of
removing the American flag from its pole and burning it to protest the Vietnam
war. Mr. Bryant, seeing what was
happening, defended the flag singlehandedly until he was joined by a group of
KC students and eventually the sheriff’s department, after which the protestors
went on their way without achieving their desired effect. According to Dr. Underwood, Mr. Bryant’s
actions showed true patriotism, and a plaque commemorating the occasion will be
placed at the base of the flagpole in the near future.
keeping with tradition, a roundtable discussion was held, with Mr. Jim Beasley,
KC Board member and spearhead of the Veterans Tribute project, leading a
discussion with three area World War II veterans. The veterans, Gilbert Logan of Centralia, Joe
Marcum of Centralia, and Warren Peoples of Centralia, spoke of their memories
of their involvement in the war, with two speakers, Mr. Logan and Mr. Peoples,
involved in different aspects of the battle of Okinawa in the Pacific
theater. Mr. Marcum was involved
primarily in the European theater of the war.
Mr. Logan told an amusing story about the great lengths his outfit went
to to cook some chickens they procured on Okinawa. He still remembers that piece of fried
chicken, calling it the best he has ever had, not surprising after six straight
months of C rations that featured a small can of pork and beans that soldiers
flavored with either lemonade powder or chocolate drops.
Beasley was presented the American flag for his dedication to veteran causes at
KC and for his leadership in the Veterans Tribute project. Mr. Beasley accepted the flag on behalf of
all veterans and especially those who have shown support for the Veterans
Veterans Tribute is located on the Kaskaskia College main campus, and is
reputed to be the only one of its kind.
A large American eagle sculpture dominates the center of the Warriors
Court, a centerpiece surrounded by bronze official seals of the five branches
of the American service. The Warriors
Court will be paved with inscribed brick pavers that were purchased through
donations. Each paver is inscribed with
the name or a message of the donor’s choice, and paver sales are ongoing to
help finance the cost of Phase IA of the Tribute. Phase IA features the Warriors Court as well
as two walls containing the names of over 25,000 area veterans inscribed in
black granite. Further phases of the
tribute will contain three more walls and an educational building to highlight
the contributions of area veterans.
Underwood gave closing remarks to the ceremony, and Ken Ingersoll, KC Professor
of Criminal Justice, gave the benediction.
Music Professor Cliff Jourdan closed the ceremony with the playing of
interested in the Veterans Tribute project, which is totally funded throu7gh
private donations, are asked to visit www.veteranstributeatkc.com for details
on the project and ways to contribute.