The entire Dexter student body, school staff, administration and several dignitaries gathered in the Bearcat Event Center Monday morning to thank some very special guests -- area veterans -- for their service.
Following an invocation by Dexter's First Christian Church newly installed pastor, Chaplain Mike Williams, USAF Reserve, and the Pledge of Allegiance led by 95-year-old Lt. Col. Cliff Manlove, USAF, Retired.
Keynote speaker for the 2012 observance of Veterans Day was Darryl LaPierre, Commander of Kenady-Hanks American Legion Post 59. LaPierre spoke of the importance of serving one's country and community, citing that many who readily serve their county in the military often return home to take part in some form of community service as well.
Colors were presented at the ceremony by local Boy Scout Troop 200, and the Dexter Concert Band performed the National Anthem followed by a rousing tribute to the armed services as those who served stood to be properly acknowledged for their contributions to the nation's continuing freedoms.
Monday's observance has been an annual event for many years. The event was formally held downtown, but was moved to the spacious Bearcat Center in 2011. The decision has proven to be a wise one, given weather conditions and the ability to house the entire local student body at the BEC with no need for bussing.
Also acknowledged during Monday's ceremony were the winners of the annual fifth grade Veterans Day poster contest, with one student from each of the eight fifth grade classes at Central Elementary awarded.
For her work having been judged the best of all eighth grade entries, T.S. Hill Middle School's Olivia Sitzes had the opportunity to read her essay, The Freedom that I Enjoy the Most," to the Veterans Day crowd. A copy of that essay appears online at www.dailystatesman.com and will appear in a forthcoming edition of The Daily Statesman as space allows. Both contests are sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. SPC Katie Alsup, Missouri Army National Guard presented the honors along with Sheila Alsup, Auxiliary President.
Also on Monday's agenda was the Sisler-Eskew-Parker monument wreath presentation. For years, Delois Gales of the American Legion Auxiliary had laid a commemorative wreath at the monument at City Hall. With the event moved to the Bearcat Center, the placing of the wreath is a symbolic one, but remains in place each year.
The Veterans Day observance is annually sponsored by three entities: The local Daughters of the American Revolution, The American Legion Auxiliary and Dexter Public Schools.
(Many additionsl photos appear in Photo Galleries on this website of Monday's event).