Midland school honors Veterans Day

On Nov. 11, Midland schools held its Veterans Day ceremony. This year’s guest speaker was retired Col. Stephen Kaftan, who spoke about his career in the Air Force. Kaftan also shared about the sacrifices made by veterans. (Photos submitted)

Midland NHS members Alex Smith and Arianna Hacke shared the responsibility of telling the audience about the history and development of celebrating Veterans Day in the United States.

To mark the 81st anniversary of Veterans Day, the Midland National Honor Society hosted their annual Veterans Day assembly on Nov. 11. Despite the heavy snowfall the night before, the Midland faculty, staff, students, and community came out to support the Midland NHS chapter. 

Several American Legion posts attended the assembly, including Olin, Monticello, Wyoming, Anamosa, Maquoketa, Oxford Junction, and Lost Nation. The assembly was opened by senior Kristina Agnitsch, who called for the presentation of colors. The Wyoming and Oxford Junction posts did the Presentation of Colors. 

Midland NHS adviser Stephanie Kaftan opened the assembly commenting on the value of the country’s veterans, stating, “We owe them our thanks. We owe them our respect.” 

Senior Taylor Bahnsen and junior Arianna Hacke gave a brief introduction to “The Star Spangled Banner.” 

Hannah Chase and Carson Hunter lead the audience in “The Pledge of Allegiance.” 

Junior Jensen Orr told the audience about the development and history of Veterans Day celebrations. 

Callie Petersen spoke about the popularity of patriotic songs. 

The Midland Choir performed a medley of patriotic songs, including “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country Tis of Thee.” Midland Choir members Chiara Dusanek and Amelia Ruley performed “The Star Spangled Banner,” while Midland Choir Director Angela Ruley and senior Hannah Chase lead a group in singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” 

Carson Hunter recited the poem “IN Flander’s Fields.” 

Alex Smith and Shianne Rockwell introduced the guest speaker, retired Colonel Stephen Kaftan. Col. Kaftan’s grandson is a 2019 Midland graduate, while his daughter is a social studies teacher at Midland Middle/ High School. Col. Kaftan served in the U.S. Air Force and Army from 1973 to 2018. He was initially stationed in North Dakota, but finished his military career in New Mexico. Kaftan spoke about his military experiences, the sacrifices made by veterans, and encouraged the high school students to participate in their own communities. The highlight of the assembly was when Kaftan talked about his own father, Stanley Kaftan. He spoke about his father’s experiences in World War II and Korea, especially at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Kaftan brought along his father’s government issued vest from Korea. He told the story of his father being the only senior-ranking NCO to make it across the frozen Chosin Reservoir to safety. The vest stating, “This is an American soldier who has fallen to the ground. Please return to an Allied Force. You will be rewarded.” He told the Midland audience his father never complained about his war experiences of life-long injuries. 

A three-gun salute and “Taps” was performed by Wyoming, Oxford Junction, and Lost Nation American Legion posts. At the end of the assembly, Principal Carol Guenther encouraged the students to remember the sacrifice and importance of veterans every day, not just on Veterans Day. 

After the assembly, the MHS members hosted a luncheon for all veterans, their spouses, and the Midland administration. During the luncheon, MHS member and junior Hope Saroka presented Col. Kaftan with a thank-you card and small gift. 


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