Events honor our local veterans

Veterans Day is celebrated each year on Nov. 11. This year, there was again a variety of events held in the local area to honor veterans.

Red Bud High School held their annual Veterans Assembly in the school gymnasium on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 7. The featured speakers at this year’s event were State Representative Nathan Reitz and Red Bud Elementary Assistant Principal Barry Wittler.

As the event was held at the high school, Wittler aimed his speech specifically at those students. He shared his experience as a high school student who didn’t have a plan to becoming a soldier and serving in the Illinois National Guard.

Wittler noted that he didn’t have a lot of experience with the military, but he wanted something different. So, at the age of 17, he joined the National Guard during his junior year in high school. Over the summer, he attended basic training, then returned for his senior year of high school.

Just three weeks after finishing basic, the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks happened. “My life changed forever.”

He was able to complete his senior year, and even started taking classes at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. But on Dec. 7, 2003, Wittler was called to active duty service and sent to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.

For more from the area Veterans Day ceremonies, please see this week’s print edition.