Duty, Service and Dedication
Marston School Students Honor
Hampton Police and Firefighters
By Liz Premo
Atlantic News, Thursday, June 6, 2002
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
HAMPTON — More than 30 members of Hampton's police and fire departments were warmly honored at a very special first-time assembly, hosted by Marston School staff and students on Friday, May 31, 2002.
Organized by Principal David O'Connor and Assistants Principal Lois Costa, the outdoor event proved to be an amazing and often touching expression of appreciation for those local heroes who daily put their lives on "the line in the name of duty, service and dedication to their community.
Also present were Lane Library History Volunteer John Holman, who had previously compiled the history of the police and fire departments; his wife Connie, a retired Marston school teacher; members of the Professional Firefighters Bagpipe Band; HAJH School Resource Officer Tom Linane; Hampton Selectmen Virginia Bridle and William "Skip" Sullivan (formerly the town's fire chief); and three officers and their horses from the Mounted Police Force.
After a warm welcome by the administration opened the program, a group of students who have parents serving as police officers or firefighters led the Pledge of Allegiance. Hampton Police Chief William Wrenn and Fire Chief Hank Lipe were then asked to offer their own personal remarks regarding their departments' roles in the community.
"They do this to keep you safe," Wrenn said of the men and women who serve on the town's police force. "We're here to help you and your families, and be a part of the community." The police chief wrapped up his comments by telling his listeners, "It's an awesome feeling to have you honor us today."
During his turn at the microphone, Lipe told those assembled, "I'm proud to be your fire chief." Giving a nod toward his own personal vision early on in life to "help out the community and work in public service," Lipe advised the students to "pursue that vision you want for your family and yourself and "work hard, have fun and enjoy your summer."
Special student-led presentations followed the chiefs' remarks. Sara Jette and Shannon Olivier performed the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," after which Stephanie Hartley read "My Special Friend," an essay about a policeman, and David Green and Spencer Cutting recited "Just a Dog," a homage to a firefighter's black-spotted Dalmatian mascot.
Perhaps the most poignant and touching part of the program came when Chief Lipe and Chief Wrenn were individually presented with framed and matted collages of pictures and poems, arranged by Marston teacher Priscilla McCallum. The poems were read by Kathy Misserville and Kylie McCoy ("What is a Fireman") and Michael Sullivan ("The American Policeman"). A picture of a colorful stars-and-stripes safety helmet (representing firefighters) and one of a slightly tattered Old Glory (for the police) were arranged above copies of the poems and a black-and-white sketch (by former Hampton resident Adrienne Pichette) of a firefighter appearing to be bowing his head in prayer, the numerals "9-11" alongside him.
Obviously moved by the presentation, Chief Lipe said he would "be proud to hang this up at the fire station." Chief Wrenn promised to do the same, "in a place of honor in our new police station" when it is eventually built. Both men took the time to give the students a closer view of the framed artwork, displaying it as they slowly passed alongside the curbing where the students sat.
The program continued with the announcement of the name selected (by a specially-appointed committee) for Hampton's newest police horse. Commenting that "over 200 entries" were received from Marston School students, Hampton Police Captain Jamie Sullivan announced that the finalists were Lindsey Preston ("Freedom" was the name she suggested) and Kathy Misserville and Alexa Franzoso (both offered "Justice"). The ultimate winner of the contest, Michael Sullivan, suggested the horse be named "Patriot." The finalists received official Hampton Mounted Police T-shirts for their contributions. O'Connor later called the students' entries — which were required to explain the reason the contestant chose a particular name — "thoughtful and reflective."
Musical selections were offered by the Professional Firefighters Bagpipe Band; a class of fourth graders who sang a fun song about the "Yodeling Austrians" (complete with hand motions); and fifth grade chorus members who, under the direction of music teacher Pat Liddy, sang the timelessly beautiful "Amazing Grace." The ceremony came to its conclusion with the performance of "Taps," as offered by fourth grade recorder musicians directed by music teacher Gus Carlson. The students' musical dedication, said Liddy, was offered to the town's police and fire departments "in appreciation for the service you give to our community."
The guests were invited to stay for a cookout organized by Hampton Food Service Director Nancy Stiles. They took the time to do so, although several firefighters had to leave soon after to respond to a medical aid call. Those who remained enjoyed their meals while visiting and talking with their student hosts. The impact of the assembly was made clear by comments made by members of the police and fire departments in general, and by the chiefs in particular.
"It was a wonderful ceremony to honor the police and firefighters of this community," said Chief Wrenn. "It's the first time in my memory that we've had a celebration like this."
Chief Lipe was equally impressed. "I'm speechless," he said. "I'm just extremely moved by the whole event." Lipe's Deputy Chief, Chris Silver, called the program "Awesome. That was one of the best things I've ever seen the kids do."
Lipe wholeheartedly concurred. "The amount of work these kids did to honor us is just incredible," he said. "Their hearts were in it."
HONORING A TRUE PATRIOT — US Congressman John E. Sununu (left) presented an American flag to Hampton veteran and historian John Holman (right) during a cook-out last week at- Marston School, where Sununu starred as the guest chef. The flag was presented with a certificate which read, "This is to certify that the accompanying flag was flown over the United States Capitol on May 8, 2002, at the request of the Honorable John E. Sununu, Member of Congress. This flag was flown in honor of John Holman in recognition of your service to our country in the United States Army, as a Veteran of the American Legion Post #35, and with grateful. thanks for your appreciation of the American Flag and all that it symbolizes." Congressman Sununu noted that "John Holman's quiet acts of patriotism through the years illustrate a strong devotion to our country that deserves recognition and respect. It was truly an honor to meet him and present him with a flag flown over the US Capitol in his honor."
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]