Honoring all who served – at home, abroad

MLHS salutes the service, sacrifice, loyalty of veterans at 2017 program 




“Veterans – vets – answered a call larger than themselves,” shared Nick Naxay, keynote speaker at Mountain Lake Public High School’s (MLHS) Veterans Day 2017 program.

Naxay, a 2003 graduate of MLHS, served in the United States Army from 2003 to 2008, rising to the rank of E-5 Sergeant. Naxay is currently a Cottonwood County Deputy Sheriff, after previously serving as an officer with the Mountain Lake Police Department. He and his wife, Sarah, have a daughter, Emma and a son, Landon.

Naxay was introduced by his niece, Destiny Sybounheuan, a MLHS sophomore.

Whether military duty was at home or abroad, the MLHS salute this morning (Thursday, November 9) in the school’s auditorium honored the veterans’ service, sacrifice and loyalty. (November 11 is the actual date for the annual recognition of the country’s veterans and falls on Saturday this year.)

Joining the Social Studies Department (Shawn Naas, Scott Boelke and Jessica Svehla) in presenting the program were members of the Mountain Lake American Legion Post #389 Color Guard; Christine Johnson, Vocal Music Director; Kurt Jahnke, Instrumental Music Director; Michelle Larson, MLHS Principal and two participating MLHS students.

Posting of the colors and leading in the “Pledge of Allegiance” was done by the American Legion Post’s Color Guard.

Principal Larson provided the welcome and opening remarks, as well as introduced the veterans attending the ceremony.

Naxay went on to reflect on his military service, most notably during Iraqi Freedom, as he worked as a troop in a coalition of soldiers from around the world. “Serving in the Army made me mentally and physically tough,” stated Naxay. “Even now, even though that I am out – I will always be a soldier. My service will always define me until the day I die.”

He additionally included a review of the history of Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day when it was organized following World War I as a day dedicated to the cause of world peace. Naxay noted that Veterans Day often gets overlooked. “Memorial Day is when we recognize those that gave all in the protection of this country,” he laid out, “but Veterans Day honors all who were a part of military service, not only those who gave with their lives.

Naxay, in speaking to the veterans on hand, called those who served “examples of excellence,” and he joined in celebrating their service to this nation. “I share your pride.

“Understand that Veterans Day is not just for the vets,” closed Naxay, “but for all Americans; providing for a day on which to remember the love of freedom the vets protected.”

The Senior High School Band, under Jahnke’s baton, shared “The Messenger March” by C. J. Barnhouse, edited by John P. Paynter and “America Again” by Condit R. Atkinson. “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America,” a medley of “My Country,” “‘Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful,” arranged by Lon Berry, was performed by the Senior High School Choir under Johnson’s lead.

Junior Regan Syverson presented the reading, “How Veterans Day Was Named,” and another junior, Chloe Klassen, shared the oral interpretation, “Veterans Day.”

The program closed with “Taps,” presented on trumpet by Kayla Vonk of the Senior High School Band, along with a  moment of silence and reflection and the retiring of the colors by the American Legion Color Guard.



BILL FAST OF the Mountain Lake American Legion Post #389 Color Guard salutes the American flag as he leads all those gathered at the MLHS Veterans Day program in the Pledge of Allegiance.


THE AUDIENCE – INCLUDING the select group of honored veterans – stands as the MLHS High School Choir sings the “Star Spangled Banner.” Participating vets, receiving front row seating, include, from left, Jim Crawford Jr., Bill Fast, Robert Minion, Wennis Franz, Rodney Goertzen, Joseph Grant, Jerry Logue, Bruce Falk, Eldean Ratzlaff, Norman Nelson and Mike Nelson.


MOUNTAIN LAKE RESIDENT Nick Naxay, who served five years in the United States Army and is currently a Cottonwood County Deputy Sheriff, presents the keynote address.


NAXAY IS INTRODUCED by his niece, MLHS sophomore Destiny Sybounheuan.


VETERANS ON HAND, including those from the audience, came “center stage” to introduce themselves and to share briefly about their service. From left, Nick Naxay, Richard Anacker, Dean Janzen, Robert Blom, Mike Nelson, Norman Nelson, Eldean Ratzlaff, Bruce Falk, Jerry Logue, Joseph Grant, Rodney Goertzen, Wennis Franz, Robert Minion, Bill Fast and Jim Crawford Jr.


VIETNAM VET JERRY Logue, left, listens with respect as Joseph Grant, right, who served during the Korean Conflict, tells of his service record.


“HOW VETERANS DAY Was Named,” is presented by Regan Syverson, a MLHS junior.


ANOTHER MLHS JUNIOR, Chloe Klassen, shares the reading, “Veterans Day.”


THE MLHS SENIOR High Band, under the baton of Instrumental Director Kurt Jahnke, performs “The Messenger March” by C. J. Barnhouse, edited by John P. Paynter and “America Again” by Condit R. Atkinson. 


“The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America,” a medley of “My Country,” “‘Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful,” arranged by Lon Berry, is presented by the Senior High School Choir under Vocal Director Christine Johnson’s lead, with Martha Standerwick, piano accompanist.


FOLLOWING THE PROGRAM, audience members, including those from the community and from Mountain Lake Public School grades 6-through-12, run the gauntlet of veterans, shaking hands and thanking them for their service. Above, Eldean Ratzlaff, left, receives special thanks from his wife, Deanna Ratzlaff, right, under the watch of a beaming Bill Fast.


“THANKS” VETERAN-TO-veteran (and mayor-to-former mayor). Mike Nelson, left, current Mountain Lake mayor and veteran of the Minnesota National Guard, shares thoughts with former mayor and United States Navy vet, Dean Janzen, right. Behind at center are Jim Crawford Jr. (United States Air Force), left and Norman Nelson (Minnesota National Guard), right – and Mike’s father.


MOUNTAIN LAKE PUBLIC Elementary School sixth-grade teacher Kyle Blomgren, right, leads his students down the line-up of veterans, shaking hands and extending thanks to all, including Jim Crawford Jr., left and Norman Nelson, center.


ROBERT BLOM, right, veteran of the United States Navy, receives an emotional expression of thanks for his service from his daughter, Kaila Blom, left.
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