BELOIT - Veterans were getting 'thank-you's,' honor and a delicious breakfast at Beloit Memorial High School's (BMHS) Third Annual Veterans Day Program on Friday morning.
Following a free breakfast, Sergeant Major (SGM) Tanya M. Hudnall, the Chief Engineer NCO, USAR for the 416th Theater Engineer Command encouraged teachers and students to do their best and work together. The event also featured a performance by the BMHS choir and information on veteran's benefits following the program.
Gracie and Maggie Henthorn had invited their grandfather, U.S. Navy Vietnam Veteran Gil Richardson and grandmother Sandy. Although the ceremony was to honor veterans, Richardson was proudly displaying baby pictures of his two granddaughters. He said he was proud and happy they had invited him to the event.
At another table, U.S. Army Korean War Veteran Fran Fruzen, U.S. Navy Vietnam Veteran Gary Bolar and U.S. Army Vietnam War Veteran John Heineke and Heineke's grandson 9-year-old Callen Espinoza were dining.
Heineke said breakfast was great, especially for a military man.
"It's good food. If you've gone through the meal line, you appreciate food. It's not cream chipped beef on toast," he joked.
Bolar and Heineke said a mandatory 2-year military service would benefit youth. Heineke said the military taught him discipline and responsibility. Bolar said the military prepared him to run the boiler room for his 35-year career at Beloit Box Board.
Veterans were treated to much appreciation during the breakfast. Hudnall's speech kicked off with giving veterans a thunderous round of applause.
"Our veterans fought and bled to provide a better quality of life for everyone," Hudnall said. "Veterans don't often get the credit and recognition they deserve."
She told students she's learned the value of teamwork during her 25 years service and travels around the world.
"Success and our strength is built upon relations and coordination with each other. We are much stronger together than we are apart," she said.
She encouraged everyone to do better as individuals and push the next person to do better as well.
"Each and every one of our students are future leaders of the country and will have to solve many of the problems of today," she said.
Hudnall encouraged students to study and take the tough courses. She told students to be tolerant, kind and understanding and to be able to respect differences of opinions.
"Build relationships with those who don't look like you," she said.
She also challenged educators to not give up on any children.
"Keep teaching, inspiring and giving," she said.
Hudnall has served in the military for the past 25 years. She is a combat veteran who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom III (2004-2005). Over her many years of service, SGM Hudnall has earned several honors to include the Combat Action Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Good Conduct Medal.