THE DURAND OPERATION FREEDOM event was the hot ticket in Shiawassee County on Friday, Oct. 7, as many Durand and Byron residents made the trip to Roundhouse Stadium in Durand to pay respect to area veterans during the varsity football game between Durand and Byron. The Byron Eagles dominated the action once the game began, winning 52-6, but the real winners were the veterans and the communities that turned out in support.

The day’s festivities began with a kiddie carnival in the lawn next to the high school, with many fans then joining Durand Board of Education President Xak Zdunic at the Durand Board of Education tailgate party in the stadium parking lot for a burger or hotdog. The players were then introduced inside the stadium at 6:30 p.m., and the appreciative veterans, many of whom struggled to hold back tears, joined the young men on the field and were given a prolonged standing ovation. The Durand Marching Railroaders joined the mix as game time

approached, and Durand Area Schools elementary students released balloons at the conclusion of the National Anthem, which was played by the band. It was an emotional night for many involved, with the raising of the flag by Durand VFW Commander Bert Winer, the playing of TAPS, and the Robert Kerr Elementary students’ performance of God Bless America ensuring that very few dry eyes remained.

Durand football coach Jason Gray initiated the military tribute upon taking the head coaching position earlier this year, and he thanked the Operation Freedom committee for making the event possible. The members of the committee include Alisha and Terry Lockhart, Jason and Shelly Tolsdorf, Derrick and Julie Alward, Lesley Cesar, and Kathy O’Hara. Gray also thanked the Durand AmVets and the Durand VFW for their participation, while also thanking Lance Powell, Brian Gulick, Scott Winslow, and Craig O’Berry for painting the field for the event. (Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)

Durand Operation Freedom was last modified: October 17th, 2016 by Karen Elford