BLAINE, Minn. – A crowd of 3,000 people gathered at Blaine High School for an emotional tribute to Minnesota veterans this Veteran's Day.
Steve Guider, Blaine High School assistant football coach and girl's head hockey coach, organized the elaborate event that included Senator Amy Klobuchar, and KARE 11's Belinda Jensen emceeing the ceremony.
"I'm not a veteran, I wish I could have been if I could enlist right now I would. This is my way to give to people and I will keep doing it as long as they have me do it," said Guider.
World War II veteran Louis Steinke, 98, was honored for his service, with a crowd moved to tears as he lowered a flag. Steinke served in the US Army and met Winston Churchill.
In another heartfelt moment, Gold Star moms who lost their sons in recent wars carried a flag.
Guider was inspired to organize the tribute in honor of his late uncle, a Vietnam veteran, and to help students understand the service of prior generations.
"I think our kids really get it and understand the sacrifice these people have made," said Guider.
Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Mike Rounds, who graduated from Blaine High School in 1984, served as the keynote speaker.
He served active duty for 25 years, serving in Germany, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and multiple places in the US and has been awarded two Bronze stars for his service.
He told the crowd of students how important the act of service is, whether military or otherwise.
A student orchestra and choir provided patriotic song and the Raptor Center brought a bald eagle for the event. A Quilt of Valor presentation awarded handmade quilts to outstanding veterans, and as part of the program high school students gave their oath of enlistment.