Students and staff across the Westfield Public School District honored the nation’s military veterans on Nov. 12 with assemblies and other commemorations to thank them for their service and sacrifice.
"We should not forget how difficult it must be for them to leave their families and put themselves in harm's way," said Andrea Hanchuk, a 7th grader at Roosevelt Intermediate School who spoke briefly at the school’s 20th Annual Veterans Day Honor Ceremony. "Freedom is not free."
James Pressman, a U.S. Army captain, aviator and platoon leader during the Vietnam War, was a special guest at the Roosevelt assembly, which also included impressive student instrumental and vocal performances of patriotic tunes.
Mr. Pressman also was presented the "Heroes Among Us" award from the Roosevelt School community for "his outstanding flying ability during the Vietnam War as a combat helicopter pilot and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service in the United States Army."
Colorful signs in red, white and blue adorned the gymnasium walls at Edison Intermediate School as patriotic medleys also were performed by the 8th grade band and chorus there. A video presentation paid tribute to relatives of students and staff who are veterans. And Westfield High School principal Dr. Derrick Nelson, who has served in the U.S. Army Reserves for more than 20 years, addressed the gathering as did principal Dr. Matthew Bolton.
“This is one of the most significant periods in your life,” Bolton told the students and invited guests, who included other veterans. “You will decide the kind of person you want to be. And there are no better role models than our veterans.”
Both intermediate assemblies observed the Presentation of Colors by members of the Combat Logistics Batallion 25, 4th Marine Logistics Group from Red Bank, N.J.
Students at Wilson and Franklin Elementary Schools were among those who heard stories of service and sacrifice from veterans as did McKinley students, where first graders invited their grandfathers and other members of the family who served in the armed forces.
“Be always faithful to yourself, your country, your family and your faith,” said one former Marine as he quoted “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful), the Latin motto of the United States Marine Corps . “If you do that, you will succeed.”