St. Michael-Albertville High School hosted its biennial Veterans Day program yesterday morning, which featured local veterans, representatives from the local American Legion Post, Minnesota Honor Guard members, the school’s band and chamber choir. St. Paul Mayor, Chris Coleman, served as this year’s guest speaker for the event.
Coleman, whose father enlisted in the service after graduating high school to serve in WWII, spoke of the lessons Americans have learned from their mistake of not always treating returning service members with the respect they deserve. He said that today we know to thank all service members for their selfless service to the country, but he said there is more work to do to ensure all veterans receive the benefits that they are owed for their service.
“We need to continue to thank our veterans for their service,” Coleman said, “but we need to do more than just thank them in words as we pass them by.
Today in American, there will be a veteran who served overseas who will have to fight bureaucracies to get the deserved and earned benefits from their government,” he continued. “There will be a veteran who will get lost in the shuffle of paperwork at a veteran’s administration hospital. And sadly and most stunningly of all, there will be veterans who will be sleeping on the streets of America’s cities across this country. That is the cruelest of all.”
Coleman said that he agrees with the labeling of World War II veterans as ‘The Greatest Generation,’ but said he said he feels anyone who serves the United States, in any war, is a continuation of the Greatest Generation.
“Those that serve carry on the legacy of the veterans who have gone before them, to be a part of the incredible tradition of service in this country,” he said. “Our job here, as we remember our veterans, is to make sure that those who do not serve remember to make sure that those who have are honored, remembered and receive all the benefits that they deserve. We can never forget the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made for our country.”
Coleman praised the STMA High School’s tradition of honoring veterans, saying ceremonies like STMA’s are not happening in every school and community, and he said that makes a tremendous statement about St. Michael-Albertville’s character.
Coleman has been mayor of St. Paul since 2006, though his term comes to an end soon after last week’s election of Melvin Carter III. Coleman did not run for a fourth term as mayor because he intends to run for Governor of Minnesota in 2018.
Other parts of the Veterans Day program included a flag folding ceremony by the Minnesota Honor Guard, a recognition of local veterans, and an explanation of the Missing Man Table, a symbolic dinner table setting to honor POW MIA service members (Prisoner of War Missing in Action), along with the musical stylings of the school’s band and chamber choir.