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WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 11, 2009, 08:56 AM

11-year old handwrites thank you cards for veterans

An 11-year old girl from New York Mills, Minnesota came to the veteran's home to help honor those who have served and she brought greetings from hundreds of her friends. Heather Weller not only handwrote 85 thank-yous, but got her whole school behind veteran’s day.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fergus Falls, Minn. (WDAY TV) - Today is a day we set aside to salute the men and women who've served, and those that are still serving. It's the 90th anniversary of Veterans Day.

Veterans Day first began as Armistice Day in 1919, before the name of the holiday changed in 1954. Area veterans started the day with a ceremony on the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge. They then marched to the Civic Center and raised the flag near the Veterans Memorial plaque.

Inside the Civic, a packed room helped celebrate the estimated 23 million veterans we have in the U.S. The number of veterans is down from an all time high of more than 28 million in 2008.

They honored veterans in Fergus Falls this afternoon. Hundreds of flags lined the city around downtown and at the Minnesota veteran's home; residents came to hear from those who thanked them for their service. The names and service history of each resident were read out loud and officials from the vets’ home thanked the men and women who have served in conflicts from World War II to Iraq.

“Whenever and wherever you did this you earned the nation's respect the day you put on the uniform and you still have that respect hid say.”

An 11-year old girl from New York Mills, Minnesota came to the veteran's home to help honor those who have served and she brought greetings from hundreds of her friends. Heather Weller not only handwrote 85 thank-yous, but got her whole school behind veteran’s day.

After a recent visit to the Minnesota veteran’s home in Fergus Falls, Heather Weller got to meet dozens of veterans. And so she wrote thank you notes to them, but she also got her entire school in New York Mills involved.

“I learned they sacrificed so much so we could be free.”

Heather helped all the elementary students more than 200 sent thanks-yous for the vets today.

”I learned that it is good to volunteer and help people.”

All have stories to tell, these young men in uniform on their way to the Pacific or Europe. Elmer Winter got a thank you card today. He served in three wars.

A 5th grader, who left the classroom briefly today and learned some great lessons on her own, a chance to say thanks and hear it right back from a grateful vet. The students also made posters, thanking the veterans. Those posters will be put up at the Minnesota veteran’s home in Fergus Falls.

As area veterans march to celebrate Veterans Day, there's a renewed effort to help both current soldiers and war vets suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and depression.

These aren't actors, but rather real military veterans who've dealt with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They're part of a new campaign by North Dakota's American Legion called Courage Carries On. It's the only program like it in the U.S. trying to get more soldiers mental help when returning.

It's estimated that as many as one in five American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from PTSD or depression.

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