COVID-19 stunts 2020 Veterans Day plans

Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Okoboji Elementary students greeted visiting veterans with handshakes and high fives after the school's 2018 Veterans Day program. Many programs are being cut back and cancelled this year due to COVID-19 concerns. (File photo)

Update: The Lake Park Veterans Day program has been cancelled, and a group of Spirit Lake Students created a Veterans Day video in lieu of the traditional program.

The annual Veterans Day assemblies and community visits by local American Legion posts have been heavily adjusted if not outright canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.

After conversations with their local school districts, commanders at American Legion posts in Spirit Lake and Milford decided to forego the Nov. 11 school programs this year. Spirit Lake Commander Denny Perry said the post's traditional visits to local nursing homes will also not be taking place this year. A prerecorded Veterans Day program is being planned at Terril Elementary rather than a live event for the public to attend. School officials hope to post the video on the school's website.

The Lake Park American Legion still plans to conduct a brief program. Lake Park's James Kessler, commander of the American Legion's Department of Iowa, said the program will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, at the Lake Park Community Center. The program will be a hybrid event. The public may attend in person Kessler said the American Legion post is encouraging attendees to wear masks and maintain proper social distancing and the program will also be shown remotely on the Harris-Lake Park School network, he said.

The Lake Park program's featured speaker will be Jan Bennett Despain of Milford, whom he said was the first woman to qualify as a solo pilot aboard a naval carrier. Kessler described her as an accomplished veteran with an interesting story to tell.

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