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Mason Simon-Ressler speaks during Western Dubuque High School’s Veterans Day assembly Nov. 10.

Western Dubuque High School honored over 200 area veterans during its annual Veterans Day assembly, Nov. 10, in the high school auditorium.

The yearly event was coordinated by the Western Dubuque student council.

“The student council doesn’t act alone on this day held annually to honor our veterans,” said student council vice-president Meredith Hoerner. “58 band members and 30 choir members also take part.”

A respectful crowd of students, staff and community members was on hand for the event.

“This is a day where the normal chatter in the auditorium is obsolete as everyone gathers to honor those who have served our country,” said Hoerner. “Hundreds of names submitted by students and community members are read aloud. Additionally, we honor our classmates who sit in the auditorium today who have already enlisted.”

11 veterans were in attendance, with Epworth American Legion Post 650 providing the colors and honor guard. 2013 Western Dubuque graduate Mason Simon-Ressler was the featured speaker.

Simon-Ressler attended Wartburg College and joined the Army National Guard.

“The military spoke to me right out of high school, so I looked into different branches of service, mostly to fund education,” he said. “But it was also to give back to everything that we have as a first-world country.”

Simon-Ressler is back home after an overseas deployment with a field artillery unit out of Fort Dodge.

“We were overseas for a year where we saw active combat time,” Simon-Ressler said. “It was an honor to have gone and represented the country. There were very long and intense days.”

WD student council advisor Amy Ostwinkle reflected upon the importance of the day.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to pay our respect to everything that the veterans — our community members and even our current students that are now enlisted — are doing for us and our country.”

Simon-Ressler had a simple message.

“Have an attitude of gratitude and cultivate a growth mindset,” he explained. “Coach (John) Wooden didn’t have much to work with, but what he gave people when he coached — he was a Navy veteran too — was a growth mindset and a way of thinking that helped people be victorious.”

Simon-Ressler is appreciative of the opportunity to serve his country and to speak at the assembly while honoring those who served before him.

“I feel gratitude. The biggest thing is you become more grateful for what we have,” Simon-Ressler said. “You learn not to take things for granted from the perspective of what prior generations have done just to preserve what we have — our freedoms, our liberties and the things we hold dear.”