4th-Graders Get Acquainted with Military History
Veterans, S.A.L., Honor Guard Provide Patriotic Insight
By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer
HARRISON – The Clare County Veterans Display at the Clare County Fairground opened its doors to Harrison and Clare fourth-graders last week for the annual Veterans School conducted by the American Legion Post 404 Sons of the American Legion and Honor Guard. Clare students came Thursday, and Harrison students visited Friday. Students toured the many uniforms, photographs, weapons and other artifacts and memorabilia of conflicts and military life.
When first entering the building, students encountered the prominent display which pays tribute to the Veterans Display’s initiator and supporter, the late Mark Elis Carlstrom, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps. When Carlstrom passed away in 2011, Joe Bradley continued to develop and expand the museum to what it is today. The vast majority of the items belong to Bradley, and he and others spend a lot of time in the spring each year getting the display ready for the coming season. The display is open for special occasions such as the student visit, and for the entire week of the Clare County Fair.
Students enjoyed moving through the many elements of military history, learning what the weapons were, seeing the wide variety of military uniforms displayed. A new element in the Veterans Display is an original – very narrow – bunk bed which could be easily disassembled for transport as the unit relocated.
Honor Guard member and veteran Dale Tritten told the young visitors about the end of World War I when that armistice was signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, and how what had been known as Armistice Day had become Veterans Day to honor veterans of all wars. Joe Bradley advised the students of how important it is that they speak with their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles about their military service, noting that the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is an opportunity to have such a conversation. Dick Vershave told the kids about the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, and the Honor Guard and how members serve their community. He also made them aware of the SAL tuition support for a person wanting to enter Michigan State Police Trooper training.
As was done last year, the visit had two parts. The second was a trip over to the Veterans Freedom Park. Guiding students through the park’s garden rooms dedicated to those who fought in specific wars/conflicts was Gary Szczepanski. He engaged students, asking about who in their families may have been involved in war. He explained the commemorative bricks installed at the park, and also showed them the statues and the Wall of Tears bearing the names of fallen veterans of war from the four-county area. Several students tried to find their relatives’ names but had difficulty because they didn’t know in which war they served.
Indoors at the park, Norm Schollett, James Holifield and Leslie Walters fielded questions, telling stories and handed out Veterans Freedom Park keepsakes.
This outing provided the fourth-graders a good learning foundation and an opportunity to understand some of the importance and meaning behind the Nov. 11 Veterans Day activities which are just around the corner. A Veterans Day service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11 at Veterans Freedom Park, with a lunch served afterward at Harrison VFW 1075. A Veterans Day program will be offered at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12 at Harrison High School, with refreshments afterward.
Veterans Day Ceremony and Program Slated
Veterans Day ceremonies will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11 (rain or shine) at Veterans Freedom Park, 200 W. Main St. in Harrison. Immediately after the service, the public is invited to a luncheon at VFW Post 1075 in Harrison (across from Dairy Queen).
Clare County Veterans Services also will host a Veterans Day program at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12 at Harrison High School. All veterans will be honored, and the public is encouraged to attend. The program will feature local speakers, HHS alumni veterans and music provided by the high school band. Refreshments will be provided after the program.
Present at both events will be Karl Hauser, who has recently accepted the position of Director of Veterans Services for Clare County. Hauser is a 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran whose knowledge and passion for Veterans Services will serve him well in the new position.
Former director Renee Haley will remain in her role as president of the Veterans Freedom Park Committee and will continue to be involved in all the events and ceremonies held at the park.
Remember: It is never too late to say “Thank You” to our nation’s greatest heroes.
If any special accommodations are needed to be able to attend, call Clare County Veterans Service at 989-539-3273.