By Liz Premo
Atlantic News, Thursday, June 6, 2002[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]
during a Memorial Day ceremony held at the school last week. Seacoast area veterans
were invited to the event, which included speeches by Senator Beverly Hollingworth and
American Legion Post #35 Commander Ralph Fatello. [Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
HAMPTON — Local observances of Memorial Day 2002 continued into the middle of last week when Marston School held a Memorial Day assembly on Wednesday, May 29..
More than two dozen Seacoast area veterans were present for the outdoor assembly, which included guest appearances by State Senator Beverly Hollingworth and American Legion Post #35 Commander Ralph Fatello. A cookout lunch organized by Hampton Food Service Director Nancy Stiles provided Marston students and staff an opportunity to mingle with their special guests at the conclusion of the assembly.
As the event began, Marston Principal David O'Connor welcomed those in attendance, emphasizing the importance of young people making a connection with their adult counterparts to understand the significance of observing Memorial Day.
"We can read books, we can watch movies, we can listen to tapes," O'Connor said, "but to make learning real, we need each other."
Following O'Connor's statements, the program began with a musical selection, "America the Beautiful," performed by fifth grade band members. The flag pledge was led by Fatello, who addressed a crowd which included the school's third, fourth and fifth grade students, Marston staff and administrators.
During his remarks — and drawing upon his experience as a sports coach to many of the students listening to him — Fatello made a few comparisons regarding the rigors of war and a ball game: In war, Fatello said, "there's no time outs, no rain delays, no heat delays." He went on to explain to students how having veterans visit their school will make a lasting impact, noting that his own father, Gus, had Civil War veterans visit him as a schoolboy.
Fatello told the students that 20 to 30 years from now, they would be able to tell their own children that "you had lunch and sat with World War II veterans" at the assembly "That," Fatello said, "will be an amazing day for you." He later encouraged the students to "talk to these men and women, listen to them. They are a living history"
After sharing a story about how New England Patriots kicker Adam Venatieri's great-great-great grandfather (a soldier serving in General George Armstrong Custer's Seventh Calvary Regiment) "helped us win the Super Bowl" by being sick and unable to fight with Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Fatello returned to his earlier sports-related theme to conclude his speech.
"Be proud of who you are," Fatello urged. "You are on the best team in the world. You are on America's team."
Senator Hollingworth addressed the group by observing that since September 11,2001, "our freedom is something we hold more precious day by day" She urged for all to not only remember those who "gave life and limb to protect us," but also those who are battling prolonged illness as a result of serving their country while at war. The senator read "In Flanders Field," a poem which she said "still is very meaningful" almost 100 years after it was written. Concluding her remarks, Senator Hollingworth told Marston students that together we can do anything. We all stand together as a nation of kindness and happiness."
The program continued with a special Memorial Day recitation by third grade students ("So take a moment to thank those who died so we'd stay free"); filth graders reading in turn, portions of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address; and a poem for "Peace," recited by third grade students, several of whom held up posters spelling P-E-A-C-E.
An inspiring rendition of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was performed on the flute by Sarah Jette and piano by Shannyn Olivier. Directed by music/chorus teacher Pat Liddy, the filth grade chorus sang "This Land is Your Land" with a little bit of audience participation. This was followed by a performance of "America," sung and played on the recorder by fourth grade students led by music teacher Gus Carlson on guitar.
As is rightfully custom for these occasions, an echoed version of 'Taps" was played by students Jade Brewer and Brian Kimball, with everyone standing silently at attention. Afterward, adults and students came forth to place hundreds of miniature American flags on the green surrounding the school's flagpole.
Then, gathering together for a hamburger cookout, Marston students joined their honored guests in an effort to connect with, in Ralph Fatello's words, "a living history reminder for you to take home and learn."