Lyme-Old Lyme students honor veterans
Old Lyme — Students dressed in red, white and blue performed "America the Beautiful" and the armed forces salute in a tribute to veterans on Friday morning at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.
"The service members we honor today came from all walks of life, yet they share so many of the same qualities," high-school senior Matthew McCarthy told attendees at the school assembly. "They possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness and integrity: all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than oneself."
The school's Veterans Day assembly featured music by the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Band and Chorus, speeches, and applause for the more than 30 veterans in attendance.
Ed Shyloski, commander of the Lyme-Old Lyme VFW Post 1467 and guest speaker, gave a speech in which he drew a parallel between the students and service men and women.
Shyloski said that when he arrived in Vietnam in 1968, a master sergeant told him there are two kinds of people: those who run for cover, and those who run to the front line.
He encouraged students, who are in the process of "becoming" — intellectually, physically, morally, ethically, legally, spiritually, and socially — to recognize that their vulnerabilities are an opportunity. He said they can practice courage with the force of their will and intellect in the face of vulnerability, especially when finding themselves or others defenseless, helpless, in danger or at risk.
"Have the courage to be vulnerable and exploit it in order to do the right thing," Shyloski added. "You too can decide to be on the front line of life’s certain challenges."
Schools throughout the Lyme-Old Lyme district held activities on Friday in honor of veterans.
"This is one of my favorite days of the year in Lyme-Old Lyme High School because it really shows how much we demonstrate our respect and how proud we are for being part of this community," said Jeanne Manfredi, the high school's assistant principal.
Superintendent of Schools Ian Neviaser said, after the assembly, that Veterans Day is an opportunity for students to get real-life lessons on what being a veteran means.
During Friday's morning assembly at the high school, the Lyme-Old Lyme VFW Post 1467 presented a $3,000 Essex Savings Bank check as a contribution towards an upcoming student trip to Pearl Harbor.
A group of about 100 students will travel to Pearl Harbor to participate in a concert, on the dock next to the USS Missouri, with students from across the country and Japan, according to Choral Director Kristine Pekar and Band Director Jacob Wilson. The concert will be on the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On Friday evening, the band and chorus were scheduled to perform a concert in honor of veterans and in appreciation of those who donated towards the upcoming trip.
During the Friday morning assembly, high school students watched a video titled, "A Soldier's Story," about the experience of Private First Class James Keenan of Old Lyme being held captive during World War II.
The names of the fallen from the Lyme-Old Lyme community were read aloud during the assembly.
Student Aoife Hufford read her essay expressing gratitude to veterans. She spoke about ways she can fulfill her responsibility to the country, including by volunteering and using her passion for history to memorialize veterans.
Hufford and Sophie Kyle, both sophomores, received "Voice of Democracy" awards, an essay program through the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"I believe that many of us will never be as brave as our veterans, but I also believe that we all have a part to play," Hufford said. "We all have our own skills, our own niche, that we can use to contribute to our nation. There will be others, like myself, who will remember our heroes, there will be those who rise up to lead and run our nation, and there will be those who work to aid and help others, including those who, like our nation's heroes, stand to protect us."
"Together, I believe we can and will fulfill our responsibility to America," she added.
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