This Is Rutherford
Washington School Veterans Assembly
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Photos by Hament Patel
For approximately the last thirteen years, Washington School has carried on a tradition that gives students the opportunity to meet and pay tribute to real life heroes who have served in various branches of the military. Many of the Veterans that are honored at this special Assembly program are parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents of students who attend or have attended Washington School.
This year the program took place on May 23rd in the multi-purpose room where students gather for their morning assembly every day of the school year. Members of the school staff wore jeans in support of "Jeans for Troops Day". On this day, employers collect $5 from participating employees who wear jeans in honor of Memorial Day and the money is donated to this organization that assists vets, active-duty personnel, their family members, etc.
As a special tribute, the Veterans were lead into the multi-purpose room by a group of students carrying American flags. Once the Veterans were all seated, the third graders performed a song, “Heroes”. Next, Mr. Mulcahy addressed the Veterans and the audience and introduced a first grade student who lead the pledge of allegiance.
A group of third grade students stood on stage to present “America’s White Table” during which each symbol upon the stage was explained. The white cloth symbolizes pure hearts, lemon and salt on the table - bitter fate and tears, the empty chair- missing soldiers, black napkin-sorrow, turned over glass- meal not eaten because a soldier did not return home, candle-peace, and the vase with the red rose- hope that all soldiers who are missing will return.
Next, a small group of first graders explained what the colors and stars on the flag represent and then all of the first grade classes sang “Grand Ole Flag”. After their performance, the second graders sang “The 50 States.”
Each Veteran stood up and introduced him/herself to the audience, spoke about which military branch they served, where they had been deployed and who had invited them to the assembly.
A member of the local VFW and one of the attendees brought along red poppies for each student. The red poppy is a true symbol of military lives that were lost. A few first graders then took the stage to explain the symbols of our country. Evan Tortora, a member of the Union Middle School band, played “Taps” under the direction of Mr. John Brigante, Instrumental Band director at UMS.
Ms. Louise Micci, Lunch Assistant at Washington School, read the poem she wrote in honor of military men and women, “My Hero”. For the grand finale, all students and staff rose to their feet and enthusiastically sang the song that they love to sing at their morning assemblies, “Thankful for the USA”.