Veterans: Our thanks for your service

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Flathead Valley residents have many opportunities to pay their respect to military veterans as Veterans Day assemblies are held today and Saturday throughout the valley.

Many local schools are staging programs today, and on Saturday the United Veterans of the Flathead Valley will present the annual veterans ceremony at Depot Park in Kalispell. Patriotic music begins at 10:45 a.m., with flag-raising at 11 a.m. and an honor guard ceremony during the hour-long program that ends with lunch at the Kalispell Elks Lodge.

And lest we never forget why we celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, the day marked the end of World War I — “the War to End All Wars” — on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It originated as Armistice Day, but was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 as a way to formally honor all veterans of all American wars.

We owe our service men and women an enormous debt of gratitude and thanks. Make a point to personally thank our veterans for their service.

Story with happy ending

The Flathead’s spirit for community and giving was on full display last month as a Lakeside girl received a potentially life-saving gift.

Courtney Rhoades was diagnosed last fall with Type I diabetes and the 9-year-old and her mother had been fundraising ever since for a $25,000 diabetic-alert dog. Courtney sold dog treats at community events and yard sales to chip away at the cost of purchasing the dog that would be able to sense a high or low blood-sugar level.

Daily Inter Lake reporter Mackenzie Reiss highlighted the girl’s efforts in an Oct. 16 article. The morning after the story hit newsstands, Reiss’ phone rang off the hook. Readers from across the valley wanted to know how they could help.

Dozens of individual donations poured in for Courtney in the days following the story’s publication, with the fundraising effort finally capped off by a $5,000 check from Whitefish residents Al and Lisa Stinson. Al was facing his own battle with the disease and simply wanted to help.

Specialists have begun training a dog specifically for Courtney and her new four-legged friend is expected to arrive within the next year.

The joyful ending to this story of neighbors helping neighbors warms our hearts as we enter the season for giving thanks.

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