Elmwood-Murdock High School 2011 graduate and 2nd Lt. Kalee (Brewer) Boden was back at her alma mater Nov. 10 as the featured speaker for the school’s Veterans Day Program.

Prior to Boden’s address, E-M High School Principal Tim Allemang addressed the students and veterans attending the program.

“We all owe our service men and women a huge debt of gratitude. If not for their sacrifices our lives would be very different,” Allemang said. “Countless men and women have fought and given their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have. Sometimes we take them for granted and yet for over 240 years they have kept us safe.”

Friday’s program, he said, is a way to thank and show appreciation for the “men and women who have helped keep this the greatest nation the world has ever known.”

Lt. Col. Kevin Hynes, state public affairs officer for Nebraska National Guard, introduced Boden, who he said he has known for many years.

He explained that after high school, Boden attended Chadron State College and participated in the ROTC program, where she attended U.S. Army Airborne School.

Boden graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice and commissioned into the Nebraska National Guard in May 2015. She also attended U.S. Army Flight School in Fort Rucker, Ala., from 2015-17, where she trained on the UH-72 Lakota and UH-60 Blackhawk.

In March 2017, she rebranched to Ordnance and attended Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Lee, Va.

Boden currently serves as an Engineer Platoon Leader at the 195th Forward Support Company in Omaha. Her husband, 2nd Lt. Dalton Boden, is a detachment leader at the 134th Infantry Regiment, Long Range Surveillance Company. The couple lives outside of Murdock.

Boden’s father and many of her relatives also served in the U.S. Armed Forces, so it was only natural for her to choose the military as a career path too.

“Years ago when I was sitting in these (bleachers) seats on Veterans Day, I felt a lot of pride because I knew they were talking about my family,” she said.

Boden also knows first-hand that those who serve miss important family events such as birthdays and graduations. While family members are proud of their relatives who serve, like her father, Boden said that pride “doesn’t fill the void in the heart when loved ones are gone.”

Veterans Day, she explained, serves as a reminder of each sacrifice made. “We honor men and women who’ve committed themselves during times of peace and war. It’s not only those who served who earn the title of veterans but also the families and communities that supported them,” Boden said.

She reminded people that veterans come from “all walks of life, but are committed to something bigger than themselves. It’s never been easy to serve no matter if you are in the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force or National Guard. They know that when they take their individual oaths that their service will take them to uncomfortable environments. They must be physically fit and ethically fit, because they serve as ambassadors around the world.”

Sometimes, she said, they are not appreciated or supported, “especially the Vietnam vets.”

“Sometimes, serving in the military means the ultimate sacrifice. Veterans Day is a time we set aside a moment to remember and honor them and recall their names and shake their hands,” she said.

Boden challenged the students in the audience to seek out a veteran or family of a veteran. “Thank them for their services and listen to their stories. Incorporate what you learn into your life. They are important every day, not just today.”

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