Despite pandemic, JoCo and NEJC cities have ways to observe Veterans Day

On this rainy Tuesday morning, the Lenexa Police Department hosted its 26th annual United States Marine Corps birthday breakfast and "Toys for Tots" toy drive. The breakfast event was a drive-thru format due to the health and safety risks of the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual event corresponds with Veterans Day on Nov. 11. This year's event featured guest of honor Max Deweese, a 99-year-old World War II combat veteran and COVID-19 survivor. Photo courtesy Lenexa Police Department.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, cities and organizations across northern Johnson County are getting creative to celebrate Veterans Day this year, including one city that will host a UH-60 Blackhawk flyover.

While large gatherings are restricted due to health and safety risks of the novel coronavirus, there are still many ways to observe the federal holiday on Wednesday, Nov. 11, while social distancing. Here are some options:

Johnson County

Johnson County will continue its observance of Veterans Day, although it will be available online only.

The 2020 observance will be live streamed at 11 a.m. on boccmeetings.jocogov.org and at the county’s Facebook page. The event includes a special tribute to local World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the end to the war.

The Veterans Day celebration also features pre-recorded videos, including: the posting of colors by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Honor Guard, singing and musical performances, comments from retiring Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and local Holocaust survivor Judy Jacobs, wreath presentations by local veteran organizations, the playing of “Taps” and a rifle salute.

Leading up to the event, Johnson County has featured profiles of more than 60 local living Johnson County WWII veterans on its social media platforms and online at jocogov.org/JoCoHonorsVets.

Fairway

Fairway Parks and Recreation will celebrate veterans in the city by highlighting them on social media. To participate, send the following information to either the department’s Twitter or Instagram handle @fairwayparksrec, or email bsoeken@fairwaykasnas.org: the veteran’s name, last achieved rank, branch of service, years of service, combat tours and a picture.

Overland Park

Overland Park canceled its in-person Veterans Day observance and has instead scheduled a flyover to honor Overland Park veterans.

People in Overland Park can watch a UH-60 Blackhawk flyover at 11 a.m. Wednesday from the 1-108th Aviation Regiment of the Kansas Army National Guard, based out of Topeka. City staff noted that the flyover is best viewed at the following locations:

  • Korean War Veterans Memorial, Tomahawk Ridge Community Center, 11902 Lowell
  • T-Mobile (formerly Sprint) campus, 6100 Sprint Parkway
  • Black & Veatch headquarters, 11401 Lamar Ave.

Shawnee

The city of Shawnee is partnering with VFW Post 10552, American Legion #327 and the Sons of the American Revolution — Monticello Chapter to lead a virtual celebration of Veterans Day.

The city is also honoring this year’s Smart/Maher VFW National Award Winners for promoting “civic responsibility or patriotism in their schools.” These include:

  • Darren Roberts, who teaches fourth grade at Ray Marsh Elementary
  • Stephanie Staley, who teaches social studies at Hocker Grove Middle
  • Pam Ogle, who teaches Spanish at Christ Preparatory Academy

Shawnee also honors this year’s Patriot Pen Award winner and this year’s Voice of Democracy winner:

  • Patriot Pen Award: Oliver Evans from Maranatha Christian Academy for his essay, “What is Patriotism to me?”
  • The Voice of Democracy: Asia Gibson from Kansas City Christian School for her speech on the topic, “Is this the Country Founders Envisioned?”