BHS Patriot’s Club honors 58 military veterans with flyover, fireworks
Baldwin High School’s patriot club military veteran ceremony began with a three-plane flyover and ended with a barrage of fireworks Friday night.
In the middle was patriotic music, a speech by Baldwin City Mayor Ken Wagner and 58 veterans being honored in front of a large Liston Stadium crowd. The second BHS for Vets night was a success, according to BHS senior Colin Thomas, organizer of the event.
“It was a great night,” Thomas said. “We had great attendance by our area veterans and the weather couldn't have been better. It started raining right as we got off of the field. That was really an answered prayer that the weather held out for us. The flyover was great and the fireworks went off without a hitch. I’m really thankful that it went well.”
Rural Baldwin City resident Knute Pittenger was on hand Friday night as a former member of the U.S. Army. Pittenger was also at the 2008 BHS for Vets ceremony. He was proud of the attendance Friday.
“I loved the turnout,” Pittenger said. “I’d say we probably had twice the amount of veterans this year than we did two years ago. I think the more the Patriots Club puts this on, the more they will have come back. I also think some of the younger guys will start coming back, too, and not just us old guys.”
The festivities began with a flyover before the BHS football game. The pilots were Lester Town, Bill Johns and Bev McCullom. They flew in a missing man formation. The rest of the festivities were at halftime.
All 58 veterans and the BHS patriot’s club walked out on to the Liston Stadium field while the BHS band played patriotic music. Each branch of the military was honored before Wagner addressed with crowd with a few comments about the ceremony and the patriot’s club. Before exiting the field, a barrage of fireworks lit up the sky south of the stadium to end the ceremony.
“We actually really lucked out on fireworks,” Thomas said. “We weren’t able to launch them from Baker’s practice field, but we were able to find a place in town. We can’t thank the Heckathornes enough. That really meant a lot to our program.”
The veterans appreciated the ceremony and when asked about it later, Pittenger had one word to sum up the night.
“I think I can sum it up with one word — camaraderie,” Pittenger said. “It’s something that everyone that has served in the military knows about and it’s almost like family, because we’ve all basically been through the same thing. When we were all waiting to go on the field, nobody was a stranger to anyone.
“We knew that we were all there because we were in the military,” he said. “It was crazy, because we were saying to each other, ‘thank you for serving’ and the next question would be “what branch of military were you in?’ I think there is a certain camaraderie with all of the men and women that have served in the military.”
Baldwin High wasn’t the only area high school to host a veterans’ ceremony Friday. Eudora High had 40 veterans at its first-ever EHS for Vets.
“This is something that we definitely want to continue,” Thomas. “We also want to spread the idea to other schools in the state.”