Belmont Students Honor Town Veterans
Chenery Middle part of morning ceremonies at Belmont schools.
Frank Healey, the senior vice commander of Belmont's VFW Waverley Post, looked out from the stage onto the auditorium of the Chenery Middle School Wednesday, Nov. 10, filled with 7th and 8th grade students who came out to honor the town's veterans, and spoke from the heart.
"It is with the deepest gratitude we have for you for being here," said Healey.
The veterans – who ranged from a soldiers who fought in the jungles of New Guinea and with Gen. George Patton in Europe during WWII to sailors from the Iraqi conflict and including two members of the Chenery faculty – sat on the stage as speakers and the Middle School's Concert Choir spoke and performed in the annual Veterans Day ceremony held in Belmont schools.
By having the men among the students, said Kristen St. George, Chenery Middle School's headmistress, "shows the direct relation veterans have with each of us."
"As you are watching the veterans here, take a moment to thank someone who has served their country," said St. George.
"It is something you can do as a student," she said.
Earlier, the vets were escorted into the school's community room for a quick breakfast by students who were later peppered with questions from the men on what sports they played and their studies.
"I don't think that any other town has something like this, having young people and vets together," said John Maguranis, the town's animal control officer and veterans agent who served in Korea in the 1970s.
"This really makes me proud to have lived here," he said later.
Near the end of the ceremony, Healey mentioned the passing of US Army Spc. Jonathan Curtis, the 24-year-old former Belmont resident who was killed in action in Afghanistan Nov. 1.
"He grew up in Belmont and had many friends and we are deeply saddened and know the town is sad at his family's loss," he said.
So it was fitting that the great poem from World War I, John McCrae's 'In Flanders Fields', was first read and then sung to bring the morning's ceremony to a poignant end:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.