Modified plans are implemented for a pandemic-style, yet reverent, Veterans Day this year
Rows and rows of white crosses mark the deaths of thousands of lost soldiers in
Arlington National Cemetery. Millions of people come from all around the world each
year to honor those who have died in action serving to protect the U.S. The tradition
of showing appreciation for the veterans is never overlooked throughout the country,
including here at ELHS. ELHS alumnus Jason Hamill died in action fighting for the U.S. in Iraq. This year’s
Veterans Day committee worked toward installing a plaque to commemorate Hamill
in the school. The committee also has plans to show Hamill’s family the plaque and,
whenever possible, have a full ceremony in person to show appreciation for him.
“Hopefully, this will be the starting point of us being able to honor everyone who serves,” Lori Singer, science
teacher and member of the Veterans Day committee, said. “But at least as a starting
point, we wanted to honor Jason Hamill because he did give his life in service.” But that’s not all ELHS had planned for this Veterans Day.
Each year, ELHS holds festivities on Veterans Day to honor those who serve in
the military. It starts with a breakfast open to East Lyme veterans, as well as veterans from the homeless shelter in New London. Then, everyone in the high school gathers in the gymnasium for what is one of the most meaningful assemblies all year. The assembly includes speeches given by veterans, patriotic
songs performed by the music department and beautiful artwork put up that is provided
by art classes, as well. After the assembly, all of the veterans are invited to a luncheon to
close out this special day. “Beyond what it does for veterans and what
it does to honor the veterans, it is a day that I feel really brings the school community
together,” said assistant principal Henry Kydd. “And I feel like unfortunately, that’s what we’re really lacking right now.” Obviously, given the current circumstances, there’s no way for ELHS to hold these festivities
on the same scale as usual. However, that doesn’t mean that East Lyme did not have an
alternative that will be just as special. The Veterans Day Committee worked on a video
that had similar components to what usually
occurs every year in the assembly. This includes patriotic music provided by ELHS’s band and orchestra, a slideshow of local veterans, and more.
“I think this is a good alternative to bringing a lot of people to the school to talk with us, while still showing respect and appreciation for those who have served in our country,” sophomore Chris Munzner, whose
grandfather served in the Air Force, said. The actions of U.S. troops serve as a unifying
force when the country is so divided. The role that they play in protecting the country is of great importance, and cannot go unrecognized.
“I hope that whatever we do, even though it’s going to be a little impersonal because
of the restrictions on the size of gatherings, hopefully we can drive home the fact that
we’re still a community,” Mr. Kydd said.