EUGENE, Mo. - The community of Eugene pulled together for a thank-you breakfast Friday for its veterans.
Cole County R-5 Schools annually holds a Veterans Day Assembly. This year, Title I teachers Tricia Belshe and Tiffany Forester also organized a catered breakfast beforehand, made possible by donations from more than a dozen area businesses and organizations.
Forester's husband has deployed three times with the Missouri National Guard. And Belshe's brother is in the service.
In addition to expressing gratitude to those who have served in the military, the organizers hope in future years to draw-in more student participation.
"I have first-hand experience of what it's like to say good-bye to a loved one and not know if I will see them again," Forester said. "If anyone is willing to do that, they should be honored not only on Veterans Day but every day."
More than 75 veterans attended the breakfast with their families.
The school gymnasium was filled to the top for an assembly.
World War II veteran Norbert Gerling was honored with a plaque, presented by Master Sgt. Shelby Morrow. Gerling was a tank gunner and served during the Battle of the Bulge.
Then another 65 veterans of all ages and genders were presented with certificates of appreciation. Among those were: Nicole Ball, a speechimplementer; Sharlynn Cochran, a secondary English teacher; and Kevin Woodson, former school resource officer.
Several, like Brad Hagerman, also received handmade flags from the kindergarten classes.
The crayon-colored flag taped to a soda straw reminded Hagerman of the many gifts he and his fellow soldiers received while deployed. A 1980 graduate of Eugene High School, Hagerman retired from the Missouri National Guard this summer after three tours totaling about five years overseas.
Principal Jerry Braschler, a former history teacher, discussed the creation of Veterans Day from the former Armistice Day.
Throughout the breakfast and assembly, Tina Kliethermes and her daughter Kirstie carried a life-size cutout of Tina's husband and Kirstie's father, James, who is currently deployed on his second tour to Afghanistan with the Missouri National Guard.
Although 10 hours away, James was able to see and hear the morning's events through Skype on Tina's phone.