By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, May 25, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]
[Atlantic News Photo bye Liz Premoo]
HAMPTON -- Musical selections, special readings, honorary tributes and an ethereal dance number were the order of the day when Hampton Academy held its annual Memorial Day assembly last Friday.
Local Veterans joined students and staff in the middle school's Eastman Gym for the program, organized, produced and directed by Social Studies 8th grade teacher Christina Hamilton.
The color guard from Winnacunnet High School's MCJROTC program presented the colors to begin the ceremony, followed by the National Anthem performed by the Hampton Academy Band and Chorus under the direction of teachers Andrew Price and Jay Chandler.
Serving as master of ceremonies, student Josh Moulton offered words of welcome before introducing John Holman, chaplain of American Legion Post #35.
During his comments, Holman recalled the significance of Flanders Field (in Belgium) and its red poppies, which have become the enduring symbol of the Legion's remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to America.
The band and chorus then joined together for a performance of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," which Chandler noted "has a rich tradition." He encouraged the audience to "really think about the words and what they mean."
Then, indicating the visiting Veterans, Chandler told the students, "Our freedom [to be] here is because of those people here, and others who are willing to serve [our country]."
Student Sam Johnson gave a PowerPoint presentation, featuring a compilation of images from all of America's wars set to singer Josh Groban's song, "You Raise Me Up." The moving presentation concluded with photos of Hampton Academy students holding posters with the words "Thank You" written on them.
Henry Chouinard offered remarks on the history of Flanders Fields, punctuated by a performance of Major John McRae's classic World War I poem "In Flanders Fields." McRae's words, set to music by arrangers John Jacobson and Robert Emerson, were sung by the school chorus.
An essay entitled "What Will We Remember About Today" was read by student David Sheehy, and "A Tribute to New Hampshire's Fallen" was offered by Michael Diccidue.
These portions of the program were followed by a dance number performed by Hampton Academy alumni Caroline Bonsaint and Taylor Filiault. Costumed completely in flowing white costumes, they danced in front of a black background to a quietly powerful "Amazing Grace."
Prior to the ceremony concluding with "Taps," American Legion Post #35 Commander, Ralph Fatello addressed everyone in attendance. Asking the students if they personally knew any Veterans, Fatello told them to imagine what their life would be like if one of those Veterans made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. He noted that "total strangers" are doing exactly that for 'the freedoms we enjoy."
Fatello also acknowledged the eight graduates from Hampton Academy and High School who went into military service and ultimately gave their lives in World War II: Harry Parr Jr. (Class of 1934); Norman Dearborn (Class of 1935); Edward Tobey (1938); Roland Gray (1941); Richard Blake, Robert White and Robert Lord (all Class of 1943); and John Hobbs (1944).
These names will eventually be placed on a memorial plaque that Post #35 is in the process of commissioning. A mock-up of the plaque was presented to Hampton Academy Principal Fred Muscara prior to the conclusion of the ceremony. The plaque is expected to be placed in the gym, where this year's Memorial Day ceremony, like the many others before it, honored America's military heroes.
[Atlantic News Photos by Liz Premo]