Students say ‘thank you’ to local veterans

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Besser Principal Eric Cardwell, left, looks on while students Callie Brosseau, Mia Webster, and Michael Kreis read “They Did Their Share” during the Veterans Day assembly Thursday at the APlex.

ALPENA — Besser and Lincoln elementary schools hosted a Veterans Day assembly on Thursday to honor local veterans and thank them for their service.

Students from both schools participated in different activities, including singing the national anthem, America the Beautiful, You’re a Grand Old Flag, and God Bless the USA. Students also gave gifts to all the veterans to thank them for their service.

“I think it was absolutely spectacular,” Besser Principal Eric Cardwell said about the event. “I think more people attended this year and the students really had a great program for the veterans.”

Cardwell said holding the assembly every year has been one of the highlights of his career.

“Seeing the outreach of our local veterans and community and seeing them respond in kind is incredible,” he said. “This puts faces to who the veterans are in the community. Out of all the blessings I have had in my career, this is by far number one.”

Veterans serve our country and Cardwell said when they come back, they are the people who we all pass in local stores.

“They are always willing to serve and some take the ultimate sacrifice for it to defend the freedoms that we all have,” Cardwell said.

Cardwell thanked the APlex and its staff for the help and support with the event and also for allowing the schools host the event.

Besser fifth-grader Meladie Parr was the student speaker and had two months to prepare for her speech.

“I was really excited once I found out because it’s my last year at Besser,” Parr said. “I was really surprised that I was picked for it and I finished my speech in two days because I was so excited.”

Parr said she was nervous and shaking while giving her speech, but all she had to remember was to speak slow and loud.

“It was fun and I’m happy that I did it,” she said.

Her favorite part of the assembly was Taps at the end and listening to the poems the other students read. She said if she had a lot of time, she would individually thank the veterans for their service.

“I would talk to them, have a conversation with them, and know what it was like to be in the war,” Parr said. “It’s amazing that these guys put out their life for us. They are all wonderful people.”

This is the second year Lincoln has taken part in the assembly and Principal Hans Stevens has enjoyed listening to Sgt. Chris Majetich speak both years that Lincoln has participated.

“He’s a parent of an elementary student, so he’s definitely in tune with the age group,” Stevens said. “We are very proud to have him and all of the service members that are here in our community at the base and at the recruiting post.”

Stevens said the assembly has connected the schools with the Alpena Exchange Club and a list of veterans. Stevens said the list of veterans is always expanding.

“The reason this event has grown to more than 1,000 people is this snowball event that picks up people who may be didn’t know it was going on,” he said. “Our community is very well represented in the Armed Forces. We have a lot of people who have served and haven’t said much about it and for all of them, this is our chance to say thank you.”

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.