A circle is a symbol of eternity and wholeness, with no beginning and no end.
This makes it fitting that dozens of veterans, service members and Sunderland Elementary School students and staff lined the ring-shaped Veterans Memorial and Park on Friday, standing as proof that even in the most divisive political times, Americans can come together as family. The school held its 11th Veterans Day observance ceremony outside Town Hall to honor those who have served their country and to demonstrate to students the importance of appreciating the sacrifices made for them.
After a roughly hour-long ceremony, the service members joined the students at the school, where they visited classrooms and engaged with students, answering questions and sharing information about themselves. There were service members from Westover Air Reserve Base and University of Massachusetts Amherst Reserve Officer Training Corps, in addition to officers of Hale-Clapp Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3295.
The event featured a reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, special readings from students, some patriotic songs, a reading of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Veterans Day proclamation and a flag-folding ceremony by U.S. Senior Airmen Yan Soto and Tyler Corliss.
Students at Federal Street Elementary School celebrated Veterans Day on Friday with an assembly, where they invited community members, active military personnel and veterans.
About 10 veterans attended, including Mayor William Martin, who served as a combat medic in Vietnam.
“We want (students) to understand what these (veterans) are to the country,” said Principal Nancy Putnam.
Speaking after the assembly, Martin said he enjoyed the inclusion of the “A Veteran Is” activity, one that he has seen veterans’ groups statewide bring to schools to help ignite conversations at home about what it means to be a veteran.
Accompanying Martin was his long-time friend and fellow veteran, Bill Phelps, who, the two said, have gone from Little League to Vietnam and back.
“I see it as a rebirth of patriotism,” Phelps said, because it shows students that “veteran” is a large and mixed group.