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'It’s great to be remembered': Thousands across generations pay tribute to U.S. veterans

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Posted at 6:29 PM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 16:42:46-05

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thousands of people across the Kansas City area paid tribute Thursday to U.S. veterans in heartfelt ways. From a high school pep rally, to an intimate ceremony at a long-term care facility, young and old across generations found ways to honor our country’s heroes.

The Staley High School gymnasium echoed with sounds of standing ovations, bagpipes, singing and the Veterans Salute. Students also planted 1,000 American flags across the school campus to welcome the veterans.

“This is about the fifth or sixth time I've been here, and every time it just blows me away… It’s a very emotional thing,” 86-year-old Gary Lint said.

Lint served for six years on the Strategic Air Command and his brother was deployed in World War II.

“It's great to be remembered, really. Too often we forget some of the things that built this country and made it a great country,” Lint said.

He cannot help but think some of the students in the stands today will go into the military for a career.

Bella Pankau is one of them. Her father, a member of the United States Airforce, inspired her to join the ranks. Escorting him into the rally was special for them both.

“He’s such an inspiration to me. I plan on joining the military myself after high school,” Pankau said.

“The proud history of our military is defending our nation. I think for the generations behind us, it is incredibly important that they understand how valuable that is, why we have served for them, and why we hope that they continue to carry on that legacy into the future for us,” her father, Brent Pankau, said.

Staley senior Gavin Siegfried said he hopes he can lead by example. He and the rest of the student council felt they needed to do something to show the veterans their appreciation.

Siegfried said he was thinking about his two grandfathers who have passed as he helped plant the flags on school grounds.

“It was very powerful. You think about a lot of things, whether you have family members, friends, siblings who have served… It just, it makes you feel closer to them and it gives you an opportunity to show your gratefulness to them,” Siegfried said.

Across state lines, Morningside Place, an Anthem Memory Care Community in Overland Park, hosted a tribute to veterans and families in their care. Richard Sobek, a Marine Corps veteran, said the holiday can be more difficult for elders.

“Everybody seems to think that as we get older, we just sit around in the bar and drink. We don’t do that. We don’t sit around someplace and talk about war. We sit around some place and hold each other, so we can help repair where we’ve been, what we’ve done and what we can provide and bring forth," Sobek said.

He also said Thursday’s event is not just for veterans who served. It is for all the mothers, wives, daughters, sons and fathers that have touched the life of a person in the military.

“So we’re out here today to try to remind them life doesn’t hurt that bad,” Sobek said.