Local school honors veterans with musical program


Abagail and Alexis Holwadel have been singing patriotic songs at home for weeks now.

The two Emerson Elementary School students wanted to make sure they knew all of the words for their Veterans Day program Thursday afternoon.

That’s because they had not one, not two, but three special veterans in the audience they were singing to — their dad, Todd Holwadel, their grandpa, Bruce Holwadel, and their uncle, Shawn Holwadel.

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All three men are veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps and stood to be honored during the program when the Marines’ Hymn came over the sound system at First Baptist Church in Seymour.

“It means a lot to us,” Bruce said.

More than 350 students in kindergarten through fifth grade took part in the annual program, which was moved from the school to the church a few years ago because of the large number of people who attend.

“We just ran out of room for everybody,” Principal Julie Kelly said. “But that was a good problem to have.”

From parents and grandparents to community members, including many veterans, the church sanctuary was filled.

Other schools, including Seymour-Redding Elementary School and Seymour Middle School, conducted veterans programs Friday, and some programs, including the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center’s at the war memorial in Gaiser Park, are being conducted Monday, which is officially Veterans Day.

Emerson’s 30-minute program featured eight musical selections, including “I Love My Country,” “Grateful to be American” and “America the Beautiful.” It was put together by music teacher Jen DeFriece.

“The program is important for the students because it puts the spotlight on a very important message: We must thank and respect those who have sacrificed for our freedom,” DeFriece said.

Each song was selected based on the message in its lyrics, she said. For example, the song “Sacrifices Made” mentions specific sacrifices made by soldiers and a proper response of remembering our military in prayer, while “Grateful Nation” observes the part a soldier’s family plays and the impact on the home, she said.

“I want the audience, students and faculty to take away a strong sense of respect for our men and women who serve and have served,” she said. “It is easy to become busy with life — family, church, work. However, it is important to remember that daily life for our military can include time away from family, facing difficult decisions and living with the gravity of their responsibilities.”

DeFriece was proud of the students’ work and commitment to honor veterans.

“They worked diligently to learn facts about our military and songs that honor the service our military provides,” she said.

Before the students started singing, everyone joined in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” together.

“Just to stand up and hear someone say the Pledge of Allegiance, that’s a big deal,” Todd Holwadel said.

During some songs, students waved miniature flags or red, white and blue paper plates to form a flag.

Bruce Holwadel of Commiskey served during the Vietnam War and said he really appreciates the students taking the time to recognize and honor veterans like himself. He has attended the program the last three years.

“I think it’s outstanding,” he said. “This teaches them what we’re all about.”

Todd Holwadel of Seymour said he feels great pride knowing his children and other students at the school can stand and demonstrate freely their love for the United States of America.

“I’ve been hearing Abi sing ‘America, America’ at home, and I said to my brother, ‘Listen to her go,’” Todd said. “I’m proud that they are getting to understand what us veterans do and what we sacrificed, not us, but the rest of them.”

Although it may not sound like much to thank a veteran for their service, the Holwadels said it’s always appreciated.

“It means something every time,” Todd said.

“It means a lot,” Bruce added. “It really means a lot.”

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Upcoming Veterans Day programs

When: 9 a.m. Monday

Where: War memorial at Gaiser Park in Seymour

Organized by the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center.

Featuring the Seymour Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 honor guard, Seymour sixth-grade choir, band and student government, Principal Linda Luedeman, VFW Chaplain Gary Dyer, Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman and Vietnam veteran Larry Bothe.

When: 11 a.m. Monday

Where: Jackson County Courthouse, 111 S. Main St., Brownstown

Sponsored by VFW Post 1925 in Seymour and veterans Glen Killey and Max Middendorf.

When: 11 a.m. Monday

Where: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1083, 103 W. Main St., Crothersville

Veterans Day service followed by prayer and food. The menu will be ham and turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, noodles, gravy, dressing and dinner rolls. The public is welcome.

When: 1:15 p.m. Monday

Where: Crothersville Community Schools, 109 N. Preston St., Crothersville

The public is invited and should enter through the gymnasium doors.


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