Summit County says thank you to its military community on Veterans Day
November 11, 2016
Early Friday morning, a small group braved the chilly air to kick off Veterans Day in Summit County with a flag raising ceremony in Silverthorne.
Four girls from Girl Scout Troop 3945, and two boys from Cub Scout Troop 40, presented the colors. Sergeant Misty Higby helped them hang both the American flag and the state flag at Town Hall while five veterans saluted next to members of the Silverthorne Police Department. The children were led through the Color Guard by Cub Scout's troop leader Theresa Barger, who is also a detective for Silverthorne police. Town Councilmember JoAnne Nadalin, as well as several town staff were present for the flag raising.
Higby's son Jayden said it was the troop's first time presenting the colors. The troop ended the ceremony by giving the veterans small flag pins.
Summit County Veterans Service officer Tom Byledbal said that it's important to have these kind of events in the county, if only to connect with area veterans. Byledbal estimated that there are nearly 1,400 veterans in the county and only about 200 of them visit the office to seek out benefits.
While Byledbal said that this may be because some of the people don't need to use the services the county offers, he does worry that some just don't know about it.
"A lot of the vets, we just don't see," he said. "I get concerned because they're entitled to them, these services."
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Events give Byledbal the opportunity to meet veterans in the county.
The county organized an event for free sandwiches from the Frisco Which Wich location, which allowed people to get sandwiches from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Veterans Day. About an hour into the event Which Wich had given away 15 sandwiches. Byledbal said that all of them were people in the county he hadn't met yet and joked that free food was the way to get vets to come to events. He is considering doing similar events throughout the year. Seth Lyons, co-owner of the Which Wich, said that he had a lot of pride in the military because his brother and father are both long-time veterans.
At Frisco Elementary School, the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) organized a special event with veterans that started at 1 p.m. with catered lunch donated by Lost Cajun.
Joanna Snyder, the president of the PTSA at Frisco, helped put the event together. Leslie Ashley, a parent volunteer said that she has been helping the school with the event for the last five years.
"It's hard to miss it, even if my kids aren't in school," she said.
There were cookies, as well as hats and mugs with special messages for the 23 veterans that presented at the school. The hats read "Frisco Elementary Hero."
After lunch the veterans went around to different classrooms to talk to students about their service.
When asked why it was important to celebrate Veterans Day, Mick Bixler said that it was "because of the sacrifices that veterans have made over the years."
Bixler served on the USS Boston during the Vietnam War. He was joined by Mike Crawford, who also served in the Navy during Vietnam, and by Dr. Ed Crane. Crane is a 93-year-old Air Force and Army veteran who served in both World War II and Korea. His great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. Crane has five generations of military in his family.
He told students that one of his most memorable moments in the Air Force was flying over the Grand Canyon at sunrise.
The classroom sessions were followed by an assembly. The Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops from the school presented the colors. The first grade sang "We Thank You Veterans" before the veterans introduced themselves. Crawford pointed out that Laura Rupert, the principal of Frisco Elementary, is an Army veteran herself, and that students always had a person to turn to with questions about the military. Some of the fifth grade then read "The Best on Earth: A Veteran's Day Tribute" by Joanna Fuchs. The assembly closed with "Taps" and the retiring of the colors.
Later in the evening, the Summit County Elks Club hosted a Veterans' Memorial Dinner. The event was a fundraiser for the Dillon Cemetery Veteran's Memorial.