HOLSTEIN, Iowa | Nine veterans receive U.S. flags from students on Friday in a program marking the annual Veterans Day observance at the Rosemary Clausen Center for the Performing Arts at Ridge View High School in Holstein, a ceremony moved ahead one day since Armistice Day falls on Saturday.
The flags on Monday were folded neatly and tucked into cases made for these veterans by members of the industrial arts program at Ridge View High School, an effort directed by educator Scott Phelps.
According to Ridge View High School Principal Bret Warnke, Phelps collaborated with Ridge View FFA Adviser Clay Drenth in devising a plan to build the triangle containers. Wood for each was likely going to be discarded.
"It's recycled wood," said Tate Philips, a sophomore from Holstein who has or has had several family members engaged in military service.
"Ours is made of white oak," said Klint Blum, a senior from Schaller, Iowa, who noted that his great uncle served in Vietnam. "Mr. Phelps began talking about this project last year."
Having the cases in which to present flags seemed like a natural idea for the annual Veterans Day exercise at the school, a program often organized by Jay Wallace, a retired minister who served as a medic in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968.
"When I've told people we've had the high school shop involved in this project, people have gotten excited about it," said Wallace, whose overseas tour placed him in Korea during the Vietnam War.
Veterans Chester Neville, France Wanberg, John Myers, Richard "Tom" Nicholson, Melvin Johns, Virgil Schlinz, David Lund, Ken Schuman and Chuck Perrin will receive their encased flags at the start of the 10 a.m. ceremony on Friday, an event open to the public. Each flag will be given by Ridge View students who made the case.
"You present the case and the flag and give them a firm handshake," Warnke said, advising his students. "These veterans deserve our utmost respect and appreciation."
Following the playing of "America" by the school band, veteran Michael Breyfogle will present a speech that will be followed by a video, "What the Flag Means to Me."
Rick Williams and Jessica Logan will then conduct a flag-folding ceremony as students Kyra Martin and Jaxon Franken detail what each of 13 folds represents. The first fold, for example, is said to be a symbol of life. The second fold represents belief in eternal life. The seventh fold pays tribute to the men and women in our military branches, soldiers, sailors and Marines who protect the flag against all enemies.
Williams, a paramedic who folds the U.S. flag at a number of military funerals around Holstein, was on hand Monday at the high school to take members of the industrial arts classes through the flag-folding exercise. He worked with flags that were a bit smaller than normal in an effort to have them folded just so for presentation in the cases.
Williams, a U.S. Army veteran from Holstein, served in Vietnam during his tour, which lasted from June 1970 through May 1973.
Wallace and Williams are both members of the active American Legion Dessel-Schmidt Post No. 225 in Holstein, a post whose exterior windows on Main Street bear the names of local veterans. This post has also helped oversee the community's impressive "Avenue of Flags," a six-year-old patriotic presentation of 436 U.S. flags along Highway 20 on Holstein's south side.
Philips and Blum, like most of their classmates, said they'd never properly folded a U.S. flag until Monday. By Friday, they will have each presented a flag to a veteran, also a first for those enrolled in the class.