BEMIDJI -- As someone serving in the U.S. Army National Guard, 23-year-old Amayah Littlewolf walked up to the front of the gym in Lincoln Elementary on Veterans Day to receive a flower from her cousin in the second grade.
Although it wasn’t the first time she took part in the Veterans Day program as a service member, it’s brought things full-circle for Littlewolf since she herself was once a student at Lincoln Elementary. As a young student, she remembers watching her grandfather being honored in much the same way as she was Monday.
Littlewolf was one of approximately 60 veterans honored during the program at the elementary school. Together they spanned the gamut of ages, military branches and years of service.
“They didn’t go to war because they loved fighting; they were called to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They’re ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways in extreme times,” Lincoln Elementary Principal Jason Luksik said.
Bemidji High School student Britta Aas sang the “Star Spangled Banner.” A choir of Lincoln Elementary students sang a medley of patriotic songs. At the front of the gym, a painting of the American flag hung on the wall, comprised of dozens of blue and red student hand prints.
U.S. Navy veteran Harry Settle, who also was among the color guard, spoke about the history of Veterans Day, his own experience in the Navy, and the oath that military men and women take to serve and protect.
“We all took that oath; we all still live by it, most of us I think,” Settle said.
Representatives from the Headwaters Quilt Guild presented a quilt to veteran Carrie Johnson. It was one of 17 quilts the Guild presented at various locations to veterans. At Northern Elementary, the Guild presented a quilt to Adeline, Marcus and Alison Runningen. The family accepted the quilt on behalf of their husband and father, Karl Runningen, who is out of state preparing for deployment to the Middle East.
Area Veterans Day programs:
Back at Lincoln Elementary, the students stood up from their spots on the gym floor and walked to the front of the crowd. They would then give a flower to their veteran family member, which was almost always followed by a large hug. The announcer listed every veteran by their name, branch of service, years of service and which student invited them to the ceremony.
Littlewolf came to Bemidji from Duluth just for the event. Her cousin, second-grader Brynnley Copenace, presented her with a white carnation. Each of the veterans also received a letter from a Lincoln Elementary student.
“Dear veteran,” began the letter Littlewolf received. “I’m so happy that you made it to the veteran program. Thank you for serving our country. Thank you for protecting our people.”