National Guard commander, Jacobus to speak in Fairfield
The annual Veterans Day program and flying of the Avenue of Flags will mark the observance honoring past and present military personnel Sunday in Fairfield.
The Veterans Day program, sponsored by American Legion Post 47, in cooperation with the Fairfield High School staff, will begin at 1:15 p.m. in the FHS Auditorium.
Col. Todd Jacobus of Des Moines, commander of the Iowa Army National Guard’s 67th Troop Command, will be this year’s guest speaker.
Jacobus is known in the Fairfield area as he was commander of the Iowa Army National Guard’s 224th Engineer Battalion, which is headquartered in Fairfield, from April 2004 until May 2006. The battalion’s tour of duty in Iraq in 2005 was under Jacobus’s command. He also was the featured speaker at the 2006 Veterans Day program at the high school and the 2011 speaker at the Pekin High School Veterans Day program.
Because the 2012 Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, the Iowa Army National Guard’s 34th Army Band, which also is headquartered in Fairfield, will be available to perform at the local program. When Veterans Day falls on weekdays, the 34th Army Band members are too geographically scattered to interrupt their work schedules to perform, and the FHS Band takes its place.
The program also will include presentations by FHS students Jenna Nelson, who attended the 2012 Girls State, and Jonathan Swanson and Jacob Mineart, who attended the 2012 Boys State.
Music for the ceremony will be provided by Fairfield vocalist Jan Hunerdosse singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” The 34th Army Band, conducted by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kent Wesselink and 1st Sgt. Brent Krumboltz, will provide musical accompaniments.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class James Salts will be master of ceremonies, giving the welcome, as well as the closing remarks, and leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Rev. Art Sathoff, pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), will give the invocation and benediction.
Years ago, Fairfield schools would dismiss early on what was then called Armistice Day, and teachers would parade their students to Central Park to watch the ceremony at 11 a.m. — the hour symbolically recognized as the time of the signing of the armistice ending World War I.
After students were no longer dismissed for the observance and inclement weather often kept others away from a ceremony in the park, the American Legion, in 1998, asked then-FHS principal Ralph Messerli if the ceremony could be held in the FHS Auditorium.
Messerli agreed to let the group use the auditorium and also decided to have the high school students attend and participate in the program.
Avenue of Flags to fly
In addition to the program at the high school, the Avenue of Flags is scheduled to be flying in Central Park Sunday, weather permitting.
Volunteers are needed to help post the more than 500 flags at 6:30 a.m. and retire them at 3:30 p.m. Volunteers should meet at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building, where helpers will be served a free breakfast.
A list of more than 700 military personnel the flags fly in memory of will be published in The Ledger Thursday.
Families and friends of deceased military veterans pay a one-time fee toward maintenance and replacement of the flags. When the Avenue of Flags program began, each veteran was commemorated with the purchase of a single flag with his or her nameplate. When space for flags in and bordering Central Park was exhausted, names continued to be added for the listing printed in The Ledger. The charge continues so flags can be replaced.
For information about placing a name of a veteran on the listing, contact the VFW at 472-9282.