Two organizers of long-running Veterans Day programs that grew into part of regular classroom activities were honored by Veterans of Foreign Wars members at the 16th annual Belle Fourche Middle School Veterans Day Program Monday.
Reva Potter and Joann Stephens received plaques recognizing their efforts by Post 3312 Commander Nathan Juelfs and the VFW members and color guard from the 842nd Engineer Company.
The BFMS Veterans Day program is seen by a packed gym of students and guests, but the real program includes practice for the student presentations and classroom programs that invite veterans to tell of their experiences.
Three of the four color guard members not only are recent returnees from service in Afghanistan, they also are graduates of the school's Veterans Day programs and BFHS graduates. They include Brandon Lane, Jake Dschaak and Nick Herman. Sheena Olson-Embrey is originally from Broadus, Mont., and all currently live in Belle Fourche.
Lorne and Pat Ruzicka of Belle Fourche were recognized as outstanding supporters of veterans programs at the school. Both have been involved in programs helping to make history more real to students and to understand military service.
Former Belle Fourche Mayor Clark Sowers also introduced BFMS student involvement in fundraising toward a Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in the community.
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Sowers told about the sole Belle Fourche fatality in the Vietnam War, LeLund Kahler. Kahler was a highly-decorated Army sergeant who was killed in combat in April of 1969.
Sowers said he has volunteered the first $500 and the last $500 of fundraising for what he hopes could be a significant memorial.
"It's not going to be an easy project," he told students who had raised $135 toward some sort of a memorial.
Both community and students were involved during the program that included vocal and instrumental music and the one-room school tradition of reciting parts of speeches and important documents of American freedom.
The middle school project also has volumes of lists of names of Belle Fourche residents who have served in the military.
Currently nearly 2,100 names are listed and the school is always willing to add more names to honor current and past residents for their military service.