By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Kathy Cameron made sure the Veterans’ Day celebration Nov. 11 at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church honored those currently serving our country as well as those who served in the past.
She went the extra mile so that her son, Todd, who is serving his third tour of duty in Iraq, could be a part of it. She used her cell phone and streamlined the entire ceremony to Todd, a St. Paul the Apostle and Assumption High School graduate who has been serving in the Army in Iraq since January.
Although there was an eight-hour time difference, he was able to watch the whole ceremony.
The high-tech ceremony was a surprise to Todd’s daughter Lindsay, a fourth-grader at St. Paul. At the end of the event she was asked to come forward for a surprise. Teacher Lynn Leming pointed to Todd’s mother in the back of the church to let Lindsay and her schoolmates, veterans and others in attendance know that Todd was watching. Lindsay was shocked. Everyone waved to Todd and thanked him for his service.
The celebration for the veterans had many other touching moments. An American flag that has been passed down for three generations hung from the choir balcony. Parishioners Joe and Donna Scott, who are currently in possession of the flag, offered it to St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School for the tribute to veterans. The flag originally belonged to George Washington Scott, a former mayor of Davenport. The 48-star flag often hung from the third floor of the family home on Harrison Street, which is now St. Ambrose property. When the last two states were added, additional stars were placed on the flag.
The Scotts have offered the flag for school events before. Principal Julie Delaney said students have previously carried this flag in the Veterans’ Day parade in Davenport. Leming said she remembers touching the flag after the 9/11 terrorist attack against the United States. “It meant a lot to me.”
Boy Scout Troop 20 led a color guard to begin the celebration in the church. Parishioner Steve Harvey, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, sang the National Anthem. He was a staff sergeant in the Army Reserves when he was called to active duty. He is now retired from the military and works at the Rock Island Arsenal. He gave a brief talk in which he concluded, “We all gave some and some gave all (for their country).”
Father Hai Dinh, parochial vicar at St. Paul the Apostle and Sacred Heart Cathedral, gave a prayer and blessing for those who have served or are serving in the military. He asked the gathering to especially pray “for the men and women who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with injured bodies and traumatized spirits. We pray for them when they cannot pray.”
The fourth-grade students, wearing American flag-like bandanas, sang “Those Who Served” and “We’re a Grand Old Flag.” During the second song they waved small American flags.
Four students escorted their grandfathers to the front of the church to thank them for their service. The veterans served in World War II or the Korean War and gave brief statements about their service.
Students thanked all of the veterans and gave each a card and a memento. All veterans who belong to St. Paul were invited to attend the ceremony. Each was invited to speak.
Deacon Richard Rassmussen, a retired deacon who served at St. Paul the Apostle, told the group of his 22 years of service in the Air Force. “I am proud of what I’ve seen today to honor our veterans.”
He recited the Airmen’s Creed and told the students to “always remember it is God AND country.”
A moment of silence was offered and Taps was played. The event closed with “God Bless America” and the Boy Scouts’ retirement of the colors. Then veterans and students gathered on the front steps of the church for a photo.