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St. Regis veterans breakfast celebrates service and country

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | November 15, 2023 12:00 AM

In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as “the Great War.”

Commemorated in many countries as Armistice Day the following year, Nov. 11 became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became known as Veterans Day under President Dwight Eisenhower. 

Parades are the most popular venue of celebration to thank all of those who served, but in Mineral County, there is a strong possibility of cold and snow. However, the celebratory feeling remains, and St. Regis School once again hosted a Veteran’s breakfast and ceremony with vets attending from every branch of service at the table.

Ron Forest from Saltese served in the Navy from 1966 to 1968. Talking about today’s military compared to his time in service, he’s patting all of them on the back. 

“I think that they are doing the job that they have to do. It’s a scary world we live in. There are battles all over hell, but I think they are doing as good as they can do. They still have Seabees which is good as that’s what I did in Vietnam. Two years babysitting the Marine Corps,” he laughs. 

Ron’s wife, Linda, was sitting across the table from him. They are deeply involved in a Vietnam Veterans organization in Kalispell. 

“I think it’s really great that they (St. Regis School) have this event because the school sponsors it and the kids learn about the military and what they do for our country,” she said. 

Her sister-in-law, Irma Samson, Ron’s sister, was sitting with them. 

She said, “My brother and my family have been in Vietnam, and they still take care of their country. This is a nice thank you to them.”

American Legion Post 13 Adjutant, Scott Burrows, was decked out in his Legion uniform as he was part of the Honor Guard that opened the school assembly after breakfast. 

“We appreciate the schools getting involved and want us to come and put on a program to let the kids know what a veteran is. Why did they serve their country” he said. 

Burrows was a kingpin in introducing a class called Americanism which is a curriculum from the American Legion. Post 13-member, Joe Griffin, teaches it in all three schools in Mineral County once a month. 

Another Honor Guard member and Post 13 Chaplin, Dave Hannahh said, “I’m glad to see that there are people who still care about God and country and our way of life. That’s what I am here for this morning and glad to be a part of this.” 

He also is proud and supportive of today’s military. 

“Our true brothers in arms are still the same.” 

John Cheeseman was at the vets table with his daughter, Tyler, sitting next to him. Tyler is the school counselor and student body advisor for St. Regis School. She has been a participant several times in The Bataan Memorial Death March through the high desert terrain of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. It’s a memorial march to honor the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II. 

Her patriotism carries through to her students and the annual veterans breakfast. 

“I think it’s super important for our veterans to know that we appreciate them, and I also feel it’s important for our kids to celebrate them and show their respect.” 

Biscuits and gravy never tasted better than they did last Thursday.

    The St. Regis School cafeteria was buzzing with excitement while the students gave thank you cards they made to the veterans who attended their Veterans Breakfast last Thursday. The vets, from all branches of military, enjoyed visiting with them, receiving the cards and the breakfast before the school assembly in the gymnasium. (Monte Turner/Mineral Independent)