Coon Rapids Middle School hosted its sixth annual Veterans Day assembly with student essays and special guests.

“We want to honor our veterans, the amazing people that have personally sacrificed for the country,” Principal Tom Shaw said. “I don’t have the right words to express gratitude to you, so please accept my heartfelt thank you on behalf of our communities.”

Assistant Principal Robert Cahow said he was honored to be part of the middle school’s Veterans Day tradition.

“As a retired soldier, Minnesota National Guard and an Iraq War veteran, I’m truly honored how CRMS has shown an outpouring of support to make sure Veterans Day is honored,” Cahow said.

Keith Bedeau, whose Ojibwe name is Waabishkigwan, performed an Ojibwe veteran honor song. Bedeau graduated in Coon Rapids and currently lives in Wisconsin.

“I’m happy that we’re here today to honor the veterans,” said Bedeau, who has family who served in the military.

Bedeau said he first learned how to sing at the middle school.

Sixth grader Ja’hera Owens spoke about the importance of honoring U.S. veterans.

“Veterans are helpful and appreciated,” Owens said.

Narjis Al-Jayashi, an eighth grader, honored her uncle, an Army veteran, with an essay.

“He was the nicest person I have met in a long time,” Al-Jayashi said. “He treated my siblings and me like we were his own kids. I loved him and saw him as a father.”

Sixth grader Hannah Jurek spoke of what Veterans Day meant to her. She asked her dad and grandfather, bot veterans, about what it means to them.

“These people try to put their lives on the line for our country to be safe,” Jurek said.

Sgt. 1st Class Mike Whitaker, an Anoka graduate, shared details about his time in the Army and National Guard. He served in Operation Golden Pheasant, Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

“I came from a military family,” Whitaker said. “Despite being raised in a household like that, I really didn’t realize what it meant to be a veteran until I started my own Army career.”

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