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Military vets honored at Ellsworth Middle School annual program

The public filled the Ellsworth Middle School gymnasium to near capacity for the 11th annual "Freedom Is Not Free" Veterans Day program Wednesday.

Songs, speeches and tributes were presented before a crowd which included middle school students, school staff and community members. Veterans were in attendance, too, given the spotlight several times during the event.

EMS Principal Steve Broton expressed appreciation to the soldiers from Ellsworth's 652nd Engineering Company of the Army Reserve and to all veterans. Broton praised the family of local school custodian Harvey Dohrer, having several soldiers among them. The National Guard unit represented was chosen the number one unit for 2009, the principal said.

In addition to the parents who raised the Guard members, others deserve credit, he said, including the school, the community and, because they're based in Eau Claire, schools and communities throughout Western Wisconsin. He also lauded those who put the local program together, saying its purpose is not only to honor the living veterans, but remember those who died plus educate students about their sacrifice, emphasize everyone's responsibility to preserve freedom and remind all freedom isn't free.

Four EMS students gave presentations. Katie Trunkel spoke on "Freedom Is Not Free--Remember Pearl Harbor," Rose Buchwald-McGlennon's talk was "Heroes Die for Me," Alexandra Kroll shared a "Soldier's Last Letter Home" and Kelsey Betthauser discussed "From Billy Joel to Beethoven: the 34th Infantry Does It All," during which a video about that unit was shown.

Ryan Casper, Ellsworth High School social studies teacher and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, also reviewed his experiences in the military.

Read more in the print version of the Herald Nov. 18.