Thanking veterans

Students at St. Michael the Archangel School in Sigel shook hands with veterans in attendance at a Veterans Day celebration and thanked them for their service.

SIGEL — Students at St. Michael the Archangel School learned there is a difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day during a celebration in the school gym Monday morning.

Robert “Doc” Kralman, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, told students Memorial Day is the day to remember veterans who have died, while Veterans Day is largely to thank living veterans for their services.

There were other things students at the parochial school learned from Kralman about the holiday. He told them Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day and began as a sort of celebration of the laying down of arms at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918, signifying the end of World War I. People would celebrate this day by stopping at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 for a minute of silence, remembering the significance of that moment.

Veterans Day became a national holiday in 1941 through a congressional hearing, Kralman said.

Kralman told the students veterans serve their country in the military in both times of war and peace.

“They believe enough in our country to serve in our military,” he said. “They gave up part of their lives to make our lives better.”

Also, veterans could be anyone — someone’s mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle — and isn’t specified to any gender. Kralman also said there is only one American World War I veteran still living, while the last Civil War veteran — a Confederate soldier — died in 1958 . He also told the students the last Civil War Union soldier died in 1956.

In addition to talking about veterans and the holiday, Kralman told the students briefly about his time in the military.

Kralman said he served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, treating people who had been injured during the war, even though he himself actually never went to Vietnam. He stated it was a hard war because of the severity of the soldiers’ wounds and the fact he lost friends in the war.

In addition to listening to Kralman speak, students at St. Michael’s said the “Pledge of Allegiance,” the national anthem and sang “America the Beautiful.” Also, they watched a short PowerPoint presentation of all the wars the United States has been involved in since the Revolutionary War, including a few facts about each war.

At the end of the celebration, each student thanked the veterans in attendance and shook their hands.

Jackie Gorski can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 128 or at


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