Southwestern area schools to honor veterans

A look at what's happening this Veterans Day in southwestern North Dakota schools, including South Heart, Belfield and Killdeer public schools.

An American flag blows in the wind in Belfield. Around southwestern North Dakota, schools are preparing to pay tribute to all of those who have served and are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces in honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Each year on Nov. 11, schools and communities come together to pay tribute and thanks to those who have served and are currently serving the United States Armed Forces. Around southwestern North Dakota, area schools are preparing to honor those men and women this Veterans Day.

Due to no-school on Thursday, South Heart and Belfield public schools will celebrate Veterans Day on Wednesday.

South Heart Public School will host a Veterans Day celebration at 10 a.m. Wednesday, in its gymnasium.

Junior high and high school social studies teacher Rick Gordon helped organize the event.

“Our guest speaker is Brian Benesh, and he’s a Vietnam vet. Brian is still fighting a lot of battles for veterans,” Gordon said. “He was an ambulance medic in Vietnam… and he’s spent his adult life working for veterans.”


The event will feature musical performances from the fifth grade class and the high school choir. Some of the students made poppies for veterans.

“The idea is to get our students to recognize what veterans did for us and our country, and not only learn that respect, but show it as well,” Gordon said.

He said all veterans are invited to lunch after the program, which they’ll be eating with the high school juniors and seniors to share their experience and insight. Gordon said he’s excited about what these students will learn.

“It’s better than a textbook,” he said.

The Belfield Public School is also holding a musical performance at 2 p.m. Wednesday, in its gymnasium. The program will feature fourth through sixth grade students, the concert band and choir. Rachelle Klein, Belfield’s K-12 music director, said the students will be honoring veterans with musical numbers and poetry.

“Belfield Public School's Veterans Day Program has been a long-standing tradition in the Belfield community, and we are very proud of it. The program was originally started by the American Legion and became a joint effort between the Legion and the Belfield Public School Music Department,” Klein said. “The American Legion Post #144 has always been such a huge supporter of the Belfield music program. They have given many gifts to our students and our school. In return, the music department hosts our Veterans Day program to thank them for not only their support of the arts in our community, but also to thank them for all the sacrifices they have made for our country.”

Larry Johnson, Belfield American Legion’s Sergeant at Arms, said Legion Post #144 will not be taking part in the celebration this Veterans Day due to public health concerns.

“The school is going to put on a musical program but there won’t be any Legionnaires there. Right now, Belfield and Fairfield, where most of our Legionnaires come from, it’s a hotspot in the southwest for COVID… And we just decided we’re not going to expose our veterans to anything,” Johnson said. “I never thought I’d see a pandemic like this in my lifetime but here it is.”


Killdeer Elementary School Principal Andy Cook said Kaitlyn Wilz’s second grade class is writing letters to veterans expressing gratitude for their service to the country.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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