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By Terri Hendry
Veterans Day event at the Nevada State Veterans Home took a different twist this year. In addition to the 100th Anniversary marking the end to World War I, the annual event at the home this year also welcomed an honored guest. Combat historian and best-selling author Patrick O’Donnell was on hand to sign his works, including his latest, “The Unknowns: The Untold Story of America’s Unknown Soldier and WWI’s Most Decorated Heroes Who Brought Him Home.”
O’Donnell also served as the keynote speaker at a formal ceremony that was also held at the home. He told the group gathered about the bravery and eagerness to serve of Nevadans in WWI. Silver State residents became part of a ragtag legion of shopkeepers, cowboys, farmers, Native Americans, miners and immigrant railroad workers that made up the U.S. Army’s 91st, “Wild West” Division.
The day also featured WWI displays from the Nevada State Archives and Museum with Liz Moore, as well as personal displays of WWI memorabilia from Jim McGreachy and a WWI rifle exhibit from John Lusak. Attendants handing out programs were decked out in WWI uniforms!
The weather was windy and chilly, so the residents bundled up and wore specially made WWI hats as they listened and watched the formal ceremony held just outside.
Music was performed by five members of the brass quintet of the Henderson Symphony Orchestra. Members included John Dunia, and Matt Wright, Trumpet; Lee Higbie, French Horn; Matt Stofferahn, Trombone; and Jon Kercher, Tuba.
There were also musical performances by Laura Schaffe who sang the “National Anthem” and “Over There,” as her father accompanied her on the keyboard. Phil Esser joined in on “Over There,” before providing another favorite for the crowd, “God Bless America.”
The ceremony ended with a spectacular flyover performed by the Veterans Pilot Group. The group made not just one, but two passes over the crowd bringing a welcome surprise and heart felt smiles to all.