Mary of Lourdes honors veterans with 35th annual Veterans Day program

Founder of the Veterans Day program, Mary Ann Pierzina, left, is presented with a bouquet of red roses by her great-granddaughter, Abigail Thesing, a current student at Mary of Lourdes Middle School.

Program founder Mary Ann Pierzina recognized for her contribution

By Jennie ZeitlerStaff Writer

Mary of Lourdes School in Little Falls has continued its 35-year tradition of hosting a Veterans Day program to honor military service and sacrifice.

Former Mary of Lourdes fifth-grade teacher Mary Ann Kutzmann Pierzina, a graduate of St. Cloud Teachers College and member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary, conferred with then-VFW commander Lyle Zettel, about a tribute to veterans.

Working with the school, the VFW and the American Legion, she assembled a program. Members of the Legion and the VFW dressed in uniform and were escorted to their places on stage by a Color Guard.

Since that first program in 1977, Mary of Lourdes has firmly established the Veterans Day program tradition. Pierzina attends the program whenever she is able.

At Tuesday’s program, Pierzina was presented with a bouquet of red roses by her great-granddaughter, Abigail Thesing, a fifth-grade student at Mary of Lourdes, in appreciation for her initiative and leadership.

The Mary of Lourdes Middle School choir performed several numbers. Pictured are front row (from left): McKayla Brezinka, Aria Kapsner, Angelica Schneider, Kristen Athmann, Catherine Zack and Katie Martinson. Center row: Jacob Korver, Allie Foote, Alexandra Becker, Vanessa Jendro, Melissa Anez and Faith Robinson. Back row: Madeline Wright, Emily Blair, Sophia Sowada, Sydney Berg, Rudi Turner and Emmalea Lindstrom.

The program kicked off with a rousing patriotic processional played by the band under the direction of Lanny Anderson. Flags and dignitaries were escorted into the auditorium by the Student Council and the military Color Guard.

Master of Ceremonies Maria Heymans-Becker, Mary of Lourdes principal, introduced Deacon Craig Korver for the invocation.

The Mary of Lourdes choir performed, followed by the main speaker, VFW Post #112 Commander and retired Staff Sergeant James Anderson.

Veterans Day essay writers Kyle Nouis and Katie Martinson read their essays aloud.

An “Armed Forces Salute” was presented by the choir, with a tribute to each branch of the military.

Retired Chief Warrant Officer Howard Larsen, left and retired Chief Warrant Officer Mark Whittington present a flag folding ceremony. Watching from the back is band member Mitchell Schirmers.

VFW Chaplain Pete Stiller offered a prayer for fallen comrades.

A flag-folding ceremony was narrated by retired Sergeant Major Bob Maciej and performed by retired Chief Warrant Officers Howard Larsen and Mark Whittington.

The program was broadcast live on KLTF 960 AM Little Falls.