HAJH Honors Local Veterans

By Liz Premo

Atlantic News, Thursday, November 13, 2003

AT ATTENTION — HAJH students, staff and guests recited the Pledge of Allegiance during a Veterans' Day ceremony held Monday morning at the school. [Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]

HAMPTON — Hampton Academy Junior High was one of several local schools that held Veterans' Day ceremonies on Monday of this week. Centre and Marston Schools also participated in their own annual "thank you to Veterans" events.

A large number of Veterans representing all branches of the Armed Forces were in attendance for the HAJH ceremony. A touching slide show created by a Vietnam Veteran "who wanted a better life for his family" was presented at the top of the program, reminding all in attendance that "we remember and we'll never forget."

The Winnacunnet High School MJROTC Color Guard offered the Presentation of Colors while everyone stood at attention. American Legion Post #35 Assistant Chaplain John MacInnis offered the invocation, which was followed by the flag pledge and the singing of the National Anthem, led by Navy Veteran Jeremiah Lonergan who was joined by the audience.

HAJH Principal Kevin Moran offered welcoming remarks, commenting that "it is a great honor to have so many Veterans here today … to thank you for serving so that we may remain free." Moran told the audience that although Veterans "may not expect our thanks," they certainly deserve them from those individuals who are "beneficiaries of their sacrifices."

HAJH students took turns at the podium, offering a "History of Armistice Day" (Patrick Sullivan); "Tomb of the Unknown" (Courtney Glynn); "History of Flanders Field" (Mary Sheehy); "In Flanders Field" (Hannah Thompson); and "History of God Bless America" (Laurel Weatherby), before Sajin Murphy led everyone in the singing of the famous Irving Berlin tune.

Other student readings followed, including those by Carleton Simpson (who read a Veterans Day essay about "The War Experiences of Stan Brown," his grandfather); Caroline Alaimo ("History of Veterans' Day); Michelle Burns ("The Numbers"); and Jeff St. Gelais (a Veterans' Day essay about his grandfather's experiences in the Korean War — "I'm very proud of him," said Jeff).

An Armed Forces Medley presented by the HAJH Sixth Grade Chorus with musical accompaniment by teacher Liz Peterson found many Veterans standing when their particular military theme was played. An enthusiastic "Ooo-rah!" punctuated the musical prelude of the Marine Corps theme before the singing began.

The guest speaker for the ceremony was USMC Lt. Col. Phil Bean, a graduate of HAJH and Winnacunnet High School. During a very compelling speech, Bean offered a "translation" of General Orders/Rules to Live By, including those that instructed students such directives as "accept responsibility," "pay attention," "no monkey business," "the job is done when the job is done," and "when it's not time to play — don't."

The ceremony concluded with a benediction offered by MacInnis, the playing of an echoed version of "Taps," and a generous round of appreciative applause for the guests of honor.

Hampton American Legion Post #35 Commander Ralph Fatello took time to shake hands with students as they returned to class, receiving a hug from his daughter Gabby in the process. Veteran George Paul, greeted by HAJH teacher Justin Coggeshall, commented on the ceremony, telling the teacher "you people do a nice job." Coggeshall, responding with appreciative words that could have been directed toward all Veterans, returned the compliment by telling Paul, "You did a nice job also."