Kaneland honors veterans with patriotic assembly

By on March 22, 2014

Photo: Kaneland High School students packed the school’s east gym for a patriotic ceremony Monday. Jim Cornelison, famed voice of the Chicago Blackhawks, sings the National Anthem during the assembly.
Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Kaneland High School had its patriotic pride on display inside and outside the building during a veterans assembly on Monday morning.

Rudy Keller, co-interim athletic director at Kaneland High School, organized the assembly packed with high school students, area leaders and veterans.

“I believe it was a huge success,” Keller said. “A combination of student body being focused and attentive and a quality lineup of people participating in the assembly. Everything seemed to click.”

Numerous United States flags adorned the outside of the school. Inside the gymnasium a humongous American flag served as a backdrop for the assembly.

Jim Cornelison, who sings the National Anthem prior to Chicago Blackhawks home games, appeared at the Kaneland assembly and lent his voice for a rendition of the song that has made him famous. Leslie Hill of the American Chamber Opera, sang both “God Bless America and “America the Beautiful.”

Fox Valley-area veterans in attendance stood up to be recognized for serving in several wars, including World War II, Korean War, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan.

Gold Star families were recognized for their fallen loved ones and presented with flags. Those that had served included Sgt. Robert Domena, Class of 1990, U.S. Army, fallen Sept. 17, 1994; Specialist Richard Wormdahl, Class of 1963, U.S. Army; fallen Dec. 21, 1966; and Specialist Edwin Turk Jr., Class of 1962, U.S. Army, fallen June 18, 1969.

Joe Byrnes played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes during the assembly. KHS band and choir students collaborated to play “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

According to Keller, there were 130 choir students and 40 band students.

Senior Jaumaureo Phillips, who plays football, said he doesn’t pay attention to the band during football games. However, he acknowledged that he was moved by the band’s performance at the assembly.

“I actually enjoyed it,” Phillips said. “I loved it, actually. I heard the band and the choir.”

Sgt. Allen Lynch, a Medal of Honor recipient, wore his medal around his neck. He spoke to those in attendance about freedom. He pointed out that freedom “must be kept sacred,” and encouraged people to know what the U.S. Constitution says, what the American flag colors mean and to read the Declaration of Independence.

He ended his speech with a question.

“What are you going to do with the freedom that was bought for you at such a high price?” Lynch said.

Senior Dylan Nauert said that he is not yet sure about his answer to Lynch’s question. However, Nauert learned something “great” from witnessing the patriotic assembly.

“It really opened my eyes to how many people go in to protect our freedom and how many things they give up to protect our freedom,” Nauert said.

Photos by Patti Wilk