By Sienna Sterritt and Quinn Lebakken
On Wednesday, November 9th, SAMS held a Veterans Day Breakfast in the cafeteria for Shaler veterans and their families. This breakfast was organized by Ms. Merrit McDaniel, who has prepared the event for about 10 years.
The idea of a Veterans Day breakfast at SAMS started approximately 20 years ago, when former principal and veteran Mr. McQuade began holding an event to honor other veterans. Ms. McDaniel took control of the production after she was inspired by the passing of her nephew, who was a marine. The event was back in person this year after a two-year break due to the Covid pandemic. Ms. McDaniel sends out around 500 invites, and about 200 veterans come to the breakfast. She made personal calls this year to make sure the event was well attended.
Ms. McDaniel said that her favorite part of the breakfast is “seeing all of the returning veterans,” and “hearing the chorus sing the Marches of the Armed Forces.” Ms. McDaniel recalls when a veteran was moved to tears by the songs, which were played again this year.
Dr. John McDonough, a retired Shaler teacher and veteran who served as a medic from 1960 to 1966, attended this year’s celebration. He said that young people can show their gratitude to veterans by being patriotic, respecting the flag, and thanking veterans personally.
Another veteran, Joe Sidelecki, who served from 1990-2002, said that acknowledging veterans with events like the SAMS breakfast is very important, too.
Another veteran, George Bigelow, who served from 1966 to 1970 echoed this message. He said it is important to thank veterans for their service whenever possible.
Make sure to show your appreciation next time you speak to a veteran!
In addition to patriotic songs, the breakfast featured speeches from school administrators, a prayer from a local pastor, and a Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem. Student essay winners read their essays about Veterans Day aloud. Many students helped during the breakfast. Ms. Matlock’s class volunteered to serve breakfasts and honor the veterans in the morning.
McDaniel says that it takes about a month to prepare everything including banners, decorations, and artwork. She said that she wants to attract more young veterans to the breakfast because they deserve to be honored as well.
The Salmon thanks Ms. McDaniel for her devotion and time and asks its readers to honor our nation’s heroes throughout the year.