Schools Salute Local Veterans

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By Liz Premo, Atlantic NewsStaff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, November 16, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

HAMPTON -- America's Veterans in general - and local Veterans in particular - were lauded at a pair of well-received assemblies held last Friday morning at Hampton Academy and Marston School.

Songs, readings, musical medleys and personal essays helped to pay tribute to those United States Veterans who made a commitment to faithfully serve their country. Also remembered were those who made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives in order to preserve America's liberty and freedoms.

Hampton Academy (A Middle School)

The Winnacunnet High School MCJROTC Color Guard was on hand to help open the ceremony at Hampton Academy. Students Hannah Dionne and Haley Paradis led students, staff and honored guests in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the National Anthem sung by student Elaine Weatherby.

Hamptons' American Legion Post #35 Chaplain, John Holman, provided a "History of Veterans Day" commentary, punctuated afterwards by the traditional Armed Forces Medley. Veterans in the audience stood up in turn as the song representing their specific branch of the military was performed by HA chorus students, accompanied by the HA band.

Student Ryan McEachern next offered a reading about the American flag, saying how the flag tells all Americans that "if we work together we can reach for the stars" and emphasized that the United States has always "stood for the blessings of liberty."

A slideshow tribute to American Veterans of all wars was presented by Matt Casassa, Brandon Ciaramitaro and Ryan Doherty. Each boy provided commentary during the photographic montage, ultimately thanking Veterans "for defending our country and for keeping America the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Their presentation was followed by "God Bless America" sung by Elaine Weatherby, and a YouTube collage video - a salute to D-Day Veterans - was projected on the screen above the stage.

Hampton's American Legion Post #35 Commander Ralph Fatello, offered comments before the ceremony came to a close. He told the students about his family's involvement in the US military, including his own experience as a Vietnam Veteran and the disrespectful treatment of many who fought that war.

Fatello said all that changed when the Vietnam War Memorial was erected in Washington, DC 25 years ago.

"The men and women who served during the Vietnam era were finally recognized for their service," he said. With the current Global War on Terrorism, "our country is divided" as it was during the Vietnam War. "But the one thing we will never be divided over again," said Fatello, "is how we treat our Veterans. We will never treat our Veterans the way we did after Vietnam. And I say, 'Thank God to that!'"

Fatello concluded his remarks by observing that "The men and women who serve our country today are the brightest and the best of who we are. All Veterans, of all the branches of the service who served during our nation's wars, and in times of peace, should be honored and acknowledged this Veterans Day."

The assembly ended with a special presentation by former HA Principal Fred Muscara, reading a proclamation issued by NH Gov. John Lynch honoring NELMS award-winning teacher Christina Hamilton, who had coordinated the event.

Adeline C. Marston Elementary School

A short time later, still more Veterans and their guests were in attendance at an assembly at Marston School, where they were met with a standing ovation as they entered the gymnasium to take their seats.

The ceremony opened with the presentation of colors by a color guard composed of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts who attend the school. Those assembled were led in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the National Anthem led by Alyssa Perzanoski.

At various points throughout the assembly, a select group of 10 students representing grades 3-5 took turns reading their own personally-written essays, "What Veterans Day Means to Me". Musical selections, including "America" led by Sarah Coffen, Paige Duffy and Kathryn Hamblet, and an Armed Service Medley performed by the whole school, enhanced the students' readings.

Just prior to leading the students in chanting "USA! USA! USA!" at the conclusion of the ceremony, guest speaker Commander Fatello asked them to raise their hands if they had a family member who is a Veteran. He then encouraged the students to "get on the phone and give them a call - and say what?"

"Thank you!!" they responded in unison.

Hearing the right answer, Fatello told them that if they do exactly that, "You will feel good and you will make them feel their service was well worth it."

[See also, What Veterans Day Means To Me]