Plenty of Veterans Day activities planned

By Ron Burtz

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The 100th anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I will not go unnoticed in Custer County this week. The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have scheduled nearly 20 events to honor veterans, both living and dead. The schedule even includes a visit from the national commander of the American Legion. 

This Sunday, Nov. 11, marks a century since the ending of hostilities in WWI—on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It also represents the founding of Veterans Day, which is celebrated each year on that date and was originally known as Armistice Day. It was and remains a day to remember and honor those who have served our country in various branches of the military. 

The first event in Custer County will be the visit by American Legion national commander Brett Reistad who will appear at four events here on Thursday. At noon there will be a lunch at Laughing Water Restaurant and a tour of Crazy Horse Memorial. Next at 1:45 p.m., Reistad will tour Operation Black Hills Cabin. Then after a drive through Custer State Park there will be a dinner at Hermosa’s American Legion Post Home. 

Mark Mills of Custer American Legion Post #46 said the visit “will provide area veterans the opportunity to meet Reistad in casual settings at Crazy Horse Memorial and Hermosa.”

School children and their parents will have an opportunity to learn some WW I history on Friday at the local premier showing of the animated film “Sgt. Stubby.” The film portrays the true story of a stray dog who joins his new master on the battlefields of France. For his valorous actions, Sgt. Stubby is still recognized as the first canine ever to be promoted to the rank of sergeant and the most decorated dog in American history. 

The film will be shown courtesy of the American Legion at Custer High School Theater at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 which will go to the CHS Student Council. 

On Saturday, Nov. 10, the Legion will hold a flag retirement/raising ceremony at Way Park near the courthouse at 4:35 p.m.

Starting things off on Veterans Day will be the Custer Veterans Memorial dedication ceremony at 8 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park on Washington Street. Following the ceremony there will be a reception at 8:30 a.m. at the VFW #3442 Post Home. See the article on the journey to completion of the memorial elsewhere in this week’s Chronicle.

The official Veterans Day Ceremony sponsored by the VFW will take place at 11:11 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, followed by a potluck lunch at the VFW Post Home at noon.

In Hermosa, the day will be observed with a soup and chili feed sponsored by Hermosa American Legion Post #303 at the post home at 4 p.m.

The celebration continues on Monday, Nov. 12, starting with a flag-raising ceremony at Hermosa School at 7:45 a.m. Throughout the morning veterans will visit Hermosa classrooms and a moment of silence will be observed at Hermosa School at 11:11 a.m.

At noon veterans are encouraged to join Hermosa students for lunch at the school and there will also be a POW/MIA ceremony. 

The Hermosa Veterans Day Program will take place at 2:15 p.m. at the school, which will be followed by a veterans reception at 3:15 p.m. 

In Custer the Veterans Day observance begins at 10:50 a.m. with the Veterans Day dinner at Custer Elementary. Students are encouraged to invite a veteran to join them for a roast turkey lunch which will be provided at no charge to the veterans. The cost for other guests is $3.60.

A Veterans Day lunch is also planned for Custer Jr./Sr. High starting at 10:47 a.m. 

At 2 p.m. students will be transported to the Custer Armory for the 24th annual student-run Veterans Day program to which the public is also invited. 

The program will include flag posting by the Civil Air Patrol, patriotic music performed by all classes as well as the band and choir, a POW/MIA ceremony and a remembrance of veterans who have died in a past year. Individual recognition of each veteran in attendance will be conducted by Custer Cub Scouts and the sixth grade class. 

Keynote speaker will be Larry Zimmerman, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. The program will be followed by a veterans social at 3 p.m. in the Armory lunch room. 

The day culminates with a veterans visit by Cub Scouts at Custer Regional Senior Care at 4:30 p.m.

On Nov. 21 there will be a Veterans Day program at Elk Mountain School at a time to be announced later. 

When World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918, bells pealed out across Europe and America at 11 a.m. to mark the signing of the Armistice. Since there are few church bells left in our communities these days, the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission has devised a plan for having cell phones ring bells across the country at 11 a.m. local time on Sunday. 

Participation in the program is free and more information can be found at worldwar1centennial.org. 

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