By Doug Schroder


Once again this year the Veterans Day Breakfast and Program took place at Winnebago High School. Breakfast started at 8 a.m., followed by the program at 9 a.m. After the presentation of colors by Boy Scout Troop 705, the Veterans Procession took place, with veterans filing into the gym while the WHS band played “Ceremonial Processional”.

Once the veterans were all seated the WHS played the “Star Spangled Banner”.

WHS Principal Ron Gruber followed with opening remarks, then Lee Hartsfield recited “In Flanders Field”, a poem from which the poppy plants have come to be a symbol to veterans.

The crowd was then indulged with a musical selection from the WHS band, with Staff Sgt Jeremy Graham narrating.

Principal Gruber then introduced WHS staff veterans.

WMS Principal Cathy Finley then read the names of those veterans in attendance that day, which was followed by the WHS band playing “Salute to America’s Finest”.

Principal Gruber then spoke again, this time reading off the names of active duty members and remembrance of POW-MIA.

Winnebago native, retired USN Lt. Comander Tin Naill then took over the microphone as the keynote speaker. He gave an excellent speech, talking about a boy who grew up in Winnebago, where many veterans influenced the boy’s life. Men like Bud Oakes, John Winters, Max McGee, Tom Taylor, Lynn Coots, plus others.

The boy was, of course, Tim. He grew up in town with his many brothers and sisters. It touched many a heart for Tim to remember these gentlemen in such a way.

One quote drew a good chuckle from the crowd. Tim spoke of how one of the Coots brothers coached baseball to the youngsters back in the day. Some of the kids were a little shy at the plate in swinging the bat.

“If you’re not going to hit the ball, let it hit you,” the Coach Coots would tell his players.

At times you could tell it was an emotional speech for the Lt. Commander, as he would pause to gain composure.

When Lt Commander Naill was done with his speech, WHS Band Director Shawn Maher led the student musicians once again, this time playing “Stars and Stripes Forever”.

The program came to a close when Boy Scout Troop 405 retired the colors, and then everyone was silent for the playing of “Taps”.

Afterwards I had a chance to speak with Tim for a brief while, asking him how much he had rehearsed his speech. He told me he prayed about it and wrote down a few notes. When he spoke it all came from the heart.


Retired Navy Lt. Commander Tim Naill gave a memorable speech as the keynote speaker at the Winnebago Veterans Day Breakfast and Program at Winnebago High School on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

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