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Service and honor

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HONOR AND REMEMBER: Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kendall speaks at the Veterans Day program at Peru High School Monday morning held in honor of those who are or have served in the military.
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PRESCHOOL PLEDGE: Elmwood Preschoolers lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance during Monday’s Veterans Day Program.

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

The Veterans Day ceremonies wrapped up Monday morning at the Peru High School where the Veterans of Foreign Wars and The Salvation Army sponsored the school’s annual Veterans Day program.

The program, organized by The Salvation Army Council Chairman Lowell Maxwell, has been a Veterans Day tradition for many decades and something community members look forward to each year.

While in years past, Maxwell has gotten speakers from Washington and even the Secretary of the Navy, who will be coming back next year, this year he decided to keep it local.

“We have a beautiful program and it has some interesting speakers,” Maxwell said. “This year I went local and we have Jay Kendall, who’s going to be the speaker.”

Jay Kendall, Veterans Affairs Officer for Miami County, retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1988 and began working for Miami County in 1999, where he’s done wonderful things, according to Maxwell.

“He does a fantastic job because he brings in over $30 million a year to the county for veterans,” Maxwell said.

During Kendall’s speech, he highlighted new opportunities that have opened up for veterans in Miami County as well as touched on Saturday’s Armistice Centennial Commemoration, which honored Miami County World War I veterans.

The event taught everyone something new, even Kendall, who shared the moment with Monday’s audience.

“What I didn’t know was that Miami County had 2,400 men on that day, June 5, 1917, registered for the war,” Kendall said. “That’s a lot of people.”

According to Kendall, of those men who registered, 1,500 were accepted and 18 died in combat.

In honor of the men who died along with the veterans who came home, poppies were placed in remembrance.

“The 1,500 poppies represent the 1,500 military veterans that went to WWI is out on the courtyard today,” Kendall said. “It symbolizes our honor to those WWI veterans.”

Monday’s Veterans Day program is held every year to honor those men and women who gave their lives and time to the military, according to Maxwell.

The program is also a time to get the youth involved and help them learn the importance of the holiday, Maxwell said. Youth involvement was accomplished by having the PHS Jazz Band, PHS Swing Choir and the Color Guard take part in the event.

“I think they understand the traditions of our country more,” Maxwell said in reference to what the children take away from the program.

Maxwell said he hopes the children, along with anyone who attended the program, remembers the importance of respecting the flag and all those who served in the United States Armed Forces.