Viterbo University sticks with in-person Veterans Day tradition, at a smaller scale

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many local Veterans Day ceremonies to go virtual, but as First News at Nine’s David LaClair reports, that didn’t stop one university from hosting theirs in-person and taking away an important message.

It was a morning to honor those who served our country, as a smaller-scale audience gathered in the san Damiano Chapel at Viterbo university for an annual November 11th tradition.

Keith Purnell, Viterbo Military Student Support Director, said, “It started in approximately 2011, and father Conrad Targonski, who is also a veteran, eluded to the fact that it was just a gathering around the flag pole.”

This year’s guest speaker for the ceremony was 19-year vet and Viterbo Alumna Master Seargeant, Jacqueline Franck, who currently serves in the Wisconsin Air Force National Guard and stressed the importance of today’s occasion.

Franck said, “A lot of people mix up Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and it’s nice to put that message out there what Veterans Day is and also to let people know people are still fighting a fight that might not be on the battlefield, but also might be within.”

Even in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers of today’s event looked to continue ensuring everyone’s health and safety.

“We actually thought as late as dinner time last night, we were actually going to have to throw a curve ball and change some things around, fortunately, we haven’t,” said

The service would then conclude with VFW Post 1530’s playing of taps and raising of the POWMJA flag in the Assisi Courtyard.

Jamie Eklov, VFW Post 1530 Commander, said, “I’ve been a member of the VFW here in La Crosse since 2001, this is my first ceremony I’ve taken part in as a pow flag rising ceremony, but I think it’s a very good honor especially for our fallen comrades and remember all the veterans still serving at this point.”

One thing Master Seargeant Franck hopes audiences can take away is not just thanking local Veterans on November 11th, but also continuing to be there for them in the long run.

“If you can reach out and just help one, that’s potentially saving somebody’s life and you may not even know it,” said,

In La Crosse, David Laclair, First News at Nine.

A modified Veterans Day ceremony was also held today in Eau Claire.

This was at American Legion Post 53 on Water Street. Normally, this ceremony is held before a large gathering at a local high school. However, the COVID-19 crisis means changes had to be made. Even so, local officials say this is a day to pause and take time to salute those who served their country.

Kaye Olson, Gold Star Mother & Vice Chair of Eau Claire Patriotic Council said, “Being a veteran myself, it’s very important and it makes me feel good when someone to come out and say ‘Kaye, thanks for your service and thank for your son’s service.’ We really appreciate it. Puts you an extra high, so to speak and i think that happens to all veterans.”

Veterans Day has been linked to November 11 each year, since the end of World War one in 1918. It was originally known as “Armistice Day” until the name was officially changed in 1954 to Veterans Day

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