By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, November 18, 2005
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
HAMPTON -- Local Veterans were honored at ceremonies conducted at Marston School and Hampton Academy last week, just a day before Friday's national observance of Veterans Day.
At Hampton Academy, Principal Fred Muscara told those gathered in the school's Eastman Gym that the country would "officially recognize America's 25 million living Veterans." He added that it is "a time to pause and reflect upon the sacrifices of our nation's military Veterans, past and present."
Muscara went on to say that "we have a responsibility to educate our young people on the contributions Veterans have made throughout the years. From the beginning, from the 'shot heard around the world,' until today, volunteers have come forth, to fight the fight so that we can enjoy our precious freedoms."
Hampton Academy's Veterans Day Ceremonial Band performed an Armed Forces medley, which followed the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and a reading by Melissa Grant of "The Importance of Veterans Day."
Hamptons American Legion Post #35 Commander, Ralph Fatello offered remarks focusing on the service and sacrifice given by members of America's reservists and National Guard.
When their country calls, said Fatello, these honored, full-fledged Veterans "are ready to go, because they are Veterans who took the same oath to defend our country as everyone else. They trained as hard as any regular Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman or Coast Guardsman."
Following Fatello's remarks, HA student, Taylor Tracy shared about his uncle, a decorated World War II Veteran. He concluded his comments by telling the Veterans in the audience, "Thank you for protecting each and every one of us."
Muscara then introduced guest speaker Randall Zito, principal of Winnacunnet High School. Zito related how he had grown up "surrounded by Veterans," eventually becoming an Army Veteran who served in Viet Nam. Following active duty, Zito joined the Army Reserves and pursued his career as an educator.
Speaking from a personal point of view, Zito said that "the significance of Veterans Day is that it's a day to think about what Veterans have done for me." He implored his audience, "please do not think that Veterans like war. We love peace. That's why we're willing to serve."
Before the ceremony concluded, guest Veterans were asked to stand in order to receive an appreciative round of applause from all present. Veterans in turn offered a salute as the colors were retired by members of Winnacunnet's JROTC color guard.
Over at Marston School, another contingent of Veterans was honored with an assembly which was briefly interrupted by an unexpected fire drill, accidentally triggered by construction work taking place near the main office.
When the "all-clear" came and everyone was permitted to file back into the gymnasium, the students were lauded by administrators for the way they conducted themselves during the incident.
Organized by music teacher Gus Carlson, the program featured a number of musical selections, including the National Anthem sung by Marion Wolter and "God Bless America" led by Katrina Higgins.
Post #35 Commander, Ralph Fatello was invited to speak at the assembly as well, fully engaging the students with references to sports teams in relation to the teamwork exhibited by military personnel. He also led everyone in a spirited "USA! USA!" chant.
Veterans serving in each of the military branches were asked to stand up and be recognized while the student body sang a "Melody to Honor the Branches of Our Military." One student, Michael Gallagher, played a flawless rendition of "Anchors Aweigh" on the recorder before the rest of the school joined together in song.
The assembly concluded with the entire school singing "You're a Grand Old Flag," followed by a color guard (composed of Scouts from Marston) retiring the colors they brought in at the start of the event. And as they left the gym to head back to class, students and staff alike took an opportunity to shake hands with those who served the United States with honor and with valor.