Honoring Veterans at the State Fair

Local4 TODAY
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 8:59 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 5, 2023 at 10:51 AM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - September 4 may be Labor Day, but it was Veteran’s Day at the Nebraska Sate Fair.

On Monday, veterans received free admission and had a variety of activities available for them to enjoy. The day began with a program in the Heartland Event Center featuring Grand Island Northwest’s 14 Carrot Gold Show Choir.

Veterans and State Fair-goers had the chance to view military helicopter’s such as the Chinook and Blackhawk presented by the Army National Guard, and visit the mobile veterans unit.

The day finally ended with a parade down Main Street. State Fair officials said veterans are very important to Nebraska and they are thankful for the sacrifices veterans make.

Veteran’s Day is the State Fair’s way of saying ‘Thank you for your service.’ Traditionally, Veteran’s Day at the State Fair is on Labor Day, but last year it was on a Tuesday. After receiving some feedback, it was determined Labor Day is the perfect day for everyone to enjoy Veteran’s Day because it’s the best time to get families and veterans to the fair.

“It is a little bit quieter day out here, so it would suit them a little bit better and also Labor Day a lot of people have it off, it’s the last day of the fair,” said Karli Schulz, Entertainment and Events Director at the Nebraska State Fair. “So that’s what makes it a good day.”

Prior to the program, there was a resource fair offering help to veterans with mental health challenges and suicide prevention. One veteran expresses his gratitude for the gesture.

“It’s very nice that they honor us because we don’t always get the recognition that we deserve,” said Shad Rehnberg, Army Veteran. “Like especially the older veterans from Korea, World War II, and Vietnam. So they need the recognition and the thank you and this is one way they can do it for us.”

Schulz said Veteran’s Day is not just about putting on a show but also educating the public.

“We want them to see just like what the veterans have done for the U.S. and Nebraska,” said Schulz. “And then also just to see how thankful we are for them.”

Rehnberg explained how simply saying ‘Thank you for service’ impacts those who served.

“Means a lot to us because...I mean just a thank you means a lot that you know because we put our lives on the line and you know in a war situation, even in peace time you know, you don’t know what can happen. But just a simple thank you means so much,” said Rehnberg.

Rehnburg served 21 years in the Army and said it’s acknowledging the fact that they put their lives on the line for our freedom. He said seeing military helicopters brought back fond memories and gave thanks to the military personnel on site for their service. Rehnburg added that having them on display could impact the youth.

”If they can see the stuff and touch it and you know, be and interact with the guys that are there they might just think ‘Oh you know maybe when I get a little older I can do this too,’” said Rehnburg.