Photo Gallery | Veterans Day salute for seniors
BENNINGTON — Students in Bennington and the surrounding area got Veterans Day celebrations started a day early on Tuesday, hosting assemblies and guest speakers.
On Wednesday, the holiday itself, most schools will be closed, although many of the children will likely be in attendance at the annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Bennington, which begins at the former middle school on Main Street at 11 a.m. and heads to the Vermont Veterans Home, where there will be a ceremony. The Village School of North Bennington, the staff of which voted to remain open, will have students marching in the parade, and then will have an assembly back at school at 2 p.m. Bands from area schools also typically march in the event, although this year's lineup hasn't been released.
At Arlington Memorial Middle and High School, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, Petty Officer First Class Chris Howe, spoke to students about the history of the holiday, what it means to be a leader, and the importance of personal accountability.
"Personal accountability leads to personal growth," he said. "In the military if you don't have personal accountability, people can get hurt. Hold yourself accountable and hold others accountable. Like on a soccer or baseball team, when we hold each other accountable, we can win."
Originally from New Hampshire, but now a resident of Sunderland, and a friend of principal Tim Stewart, Howe joined the military after graduating high school in 2004, and has since completed two overseas deployments in Iraq, in 2008 and 2010. He also worked as a private security contractor in Iraq after he left the SEALs in 2012.
At Bennington Elementary School, Joseph Krawczyk – former Bennington representative and Select Board member, and current president of the Vermont Veterans Home board of trustees – was invited to speak, along with a group of other veterans who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Grenada. The assembled students also heard several songs from the school's chorus, and a number of their peers read poems they wrote for veterans.
"Don't think of tomorrow as just a day off from school," said Bennington Elementary principal James Law, "Think about it in terms of the people who have given themselves to protect our country, and thank them for doing so."