Dry eyes a rarity at Veterans Day ceremony

Published on Thu, Nov 14, 2002 by Brandy Bail

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Dry eyes a rarity at Veterans Day ceremony

By Brandy Bail

Hardly a dry eye was left in the house after a special Veteran’s Day ceremony featured the culmination of one local veteran’s dream.

An emotional and nervous Jim Bleecker approached the stage to present his father, Robert Bleecker, a retired soldier, with a gift that was 60 years in coming. Bleecker recounted how his father, just 17 years-old, dropped out of school to enroll in the U.S. Navy.

The only thing he knew was that he could be facing death the moment he entered the war zone. At one point during his military career he was given medical leave.

At this time, he met his wife who was one of the ‘Rosie the Riveters.’ With their lives combined they began to start a family. Bleecker returned to the armed forces and continued his service to America. In this life-changing experience, Bleeker never received a diploma from high school. However, that was rectified on November 8, 2002 when, at the age of 77, he received his diploma from Blaine high school. His son, Jim and his two grandchildren, Robbie and Brandon Bleecker, presented him with his graduation diploma.
Vice-principal Scott Ellis then introduced a man familiar to Blaine high school, Mike Rouse. Rouse had been looking forward to being a math teacher at Blaine high school, but was called from his job by the National Guard only two weeks into the school year to help serve following the September 11 attacks. Rouse spoke of his duties in the military and what it means to be a soldier. Rouse also issued a challenge for people to take time out of their day to stop and give their thanks to a soldier on November 11. Alive or deceased, sick or healthy, said Rouse, every veteran deserves acknowledgement.

During the special November 8 Veteran’s Day school ceremony, veterans from American Legion Post #86 presented the flag for which many U.S. soldiers gave their lives. The Blaine high school chamber choir also expressed their appreciation by singing the national anthem and “Hymn to America.”

So on Monday, November 11, did you stop and take time out of your day to show gratitude to a veteran or did you just see this glorious holiday as a Monday off from your busy schedule?.