Hankinson Public School hosted a memorable Veterans Day appreciation program Wednesday, Nov. 10.

The nearly two-hour event included the unfolding of a large American flag by Hankinson High School’s football and girls volleyball teams, songs, a skit and plenty of patriotic sentiment.

“May God bless you and God bless America,” said Anne Biewer, elementary principal and event organizer. “We spoke to the students and they’re so thankful to have this.”

Hankinson High School seniors Elizabeth Sherbrooke and Sam Elliot co-hosted the program, with Elliot also doing a bit of acting. First grade teacher Trish Elliot played Betsy Ross opposite her son as George Washington and daughter Elise as Ross’ daughter. The Elliot family dramatized the legend of the first American flag, a story narrated by Sherbrooke’s mother, high school English teacher Leah Sherbrooke.

“It’s a huge honor. Nothing makes me happier than to do things like this, serving our veterans. For all they’ve done so much for our country, it’s nice to give back to them,” Sam Elliot said.

Sherbrooke and Elliot’s classmate, Emma Kratcha, shared her Voice of Democracy-winning essay, “America: Where Do We Go from Here?”

“We stand on a nation built by our predecessors, bearing the courage and hopeful curiosity of our ancestors, and enjoy the freedoms they fought to ensure,” Kratcha said. “Now entrusted with the future of our great nation, we have the great responsibility to shape it within the principles of those who came before us and the interests of those who will come after.”

America continues to evolve, Kratcha said, continuing to strive to become a better, stronger nation.

“I am hopeful. We come from generations of people, who fought to secure and protect the rights of their children and who came together in debate and compromise to solve problems. Now it is our turn, to fight for the future Americans, to come together in understanding and strength and to build them a better world than our own,” Kratcha said.

Junior high student Lydia Shellito shared her own essay, “How Can I Be a Better American?”

“I think having a respect for the rights of all other individual Americans is a good place to start,” Shellito said. “What is true for one person should be true for all. It seems bizarre to claim to love and respect America without loving and respecting the people we share it with.”

America is a country of ideas and ideals, where people are free to express themselves in a marketplace of thoughts and test them against other individual beliefs, Shellito said.

“History teaches us that the biggest threat to a great civilization is internal division as opposed to external threats,” she said. “What can I do to be a better American? (I can) keep faith in our founding fathers’ original premise, that all of us are equal.”

News Monitor is thankful to the past and present men and women of America’s military.

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