In Warsaw-- Ceremonies Pay Heartfelt Tribute To Veterans

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
Vietnam vet Harold “Hal” Russell was the featured speaker at the Warsaw High School Veterans Day Commemoration on Friday, November 10.  
Russell grew up on a farm in a rural area near Lowry City.  “We were poor but didn’t realize it,” said Russell.  “My family milked cows.  We didn’t have electricity or running water.  I wanted to see things so after graduation I went to the city and got a job at Hallmark.”
Then in 1968, Russell was drafted into the U.S. Army.  After basic training in Louisiana, he went to jump school in Georgia but he didn’t go to jump school.  Instead he was sent to Ft. Lewis near Tacoma, Washington and then on to Vietnam.
Upon his return home after his tour of duty, Russell didn’t feel like he fit into society.  “Not everyone back home was supportive of the Vietnam War and I was haunted by the war,” Russell said.  Russell said he suffered from PTSD. 
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Russell went back to the farm where he worked for 20 years. Then he decided to finish his education and became an elementary counselor in Osceola.
After retirement, Russell started biking and running.  Russell followed his father’s advice and always did his very best.  “I may not always finish first but every race I enter, I finish,” he said.
Russell has biked from Canada to Mexico and from Oregon to North Carolina.  He also returned to Vietnam to exhume the ghosts from the past.
Presently, Russell continues to bike and run.  He encouraged WHS students to do their best at everything they did.
In addition to Russell’s speech, the Warsaw High School Student Council and National Honor Society served breakfast to local veterans and their families.  The American Legion post 217 presented the colors while Hannah Chapman, WHS Student Council President led the Pledge of Allegiance.
WHS Speech Team member Caitlin Easter read a patriotic poem and the WHS Women’s Choir sang the National Anthem.
Dr. Shawn Poyser, Superintendent of the Warsaw R-9 District, welcomed the veterans and their families then many patriotic songs were presented by the WHS band and Madrigal Singers.
Chuck Appleton performed TAPS and the Madrigal Singers and Women’s Choir closed the assembly with “Salute to the Armed Forces”.
Special recognition was presented to Jennifer Greene by the Lincoln VFW Post commander.  Greene was recognized as the “Teacher of the Year” for her work each year on the Veterans Day Assembly.
On Saturday, November 11, the American Legion hosted the annual “Wreathing of the Waters” on the Lake of the Ozarks near Drake Harbor.  The American Legion Honor Guard presented the colors and performed the gun salute.
Despite the cold weather, about 60 people were on hand to honor the veterans   which the American Legion has hosted for almost 30 years.  American Legion Commander Dick Sanford spoke to the crowd.
Missouri Representative Warren Love was on hand to express his appreciation to the Veterans as well.
After the ceremony, veterans and their families enjoyed a soup and chili lunch hosted by the American Legion at the Marine Corp League Building.