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Even after 65 years, it still fits.

The U.S. Army uniform Max Johnson of Valley wore in the service from 1953 to 1955 is still in wearable shape even after all these years. He was one of the many people in Butler County who celebrated Veterans Day on Sunday.

“I had to squeeze a little bit, but I got it on,” Johnson said. “It’s the original one, and I’m the original guy.”

Many events in the county were hosted throughout Sunday and Monday in commemoration of those who have served in America's Armed Forces. On Sunday morning, the Dwight Sons of American Legion hosted a breakfast for veterans with an estimated 100 attendees, said breakfast volunteer Evan Sisel.

“People are willing to support an organization like this when they have good people in it,” Sisel said.

During the afternoon, the Brainard American Legion Post hosted its annual pancake supper. The Dwight American Legion Post's Veterans Day afternoon program featured a patriotic performance by The Leo Lonnie Orchestra.

The Brainard-based group was founded in 1991 by Lonnie Piitz’s father, Leo Piitz, and has seven members, including Lonnie's 15-year-old daughter, Suzie Piitz. The band leader said part of their set includes playing the themes for each of the different U.S military branches.

“It’s a really nice crowd,” Lonnie Piitz said about the event's audience. “We’ve done it now every year for the past couple of years, and we really enjoy it.”

Johnson danced with many women to the polka music at the event. He said he loves to dance and practices several times a week.

“Good as it gets," Johnson said about the music.

Ken Kotera, of Brainard, the Dwight Legion Post's first vice commander, said they expected 150 to attend the program. A bus brought about 50 veterans from Lincoln, whom he said came out for the event’s small-town charm.

“We’re trying to promote the Veterans Day program and just what the veteran accomplished throughout the years,” Kotera said about the goal of the event.

At the event, John 'Jack' Tesina Sr., of Bee, was awarded a Quilt of Valor, an honor bestowed to veterans of war. Quilts were also presented to community members at East Butler High School and Aquinas Catholic High School as a part of their Veterans Day Programs.

Steve Smith, Randy Peterson, Jim Krumbach, David Klein, Mike Wetjen, Emily Kay and James Re were given the award at the East Butler Ceremony; and William Kozisek, Robert Cummings, Ronald DeWispelare, Joseph Drozda, Shelly Blatny-Palik, Galen Pokorny, Ray Kobza, Larry Hartman and Sean Wacker were given the award as a part of the Aquinas Ceremony.

Eric Schucht is a reporter with The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News Review.

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