Chatham Middle School honored local veterans with its traditional assembly open to all veterans, current servicemen and service women, and their families. This year’s Veterans Day Celebration was held November 9th and included remarks by students and staff, and featured World War II Army veteran, Jack Mesick.
“Today, we reflect upon the invaluable contributions of our country’s veterans and reaffirm our commitment to provide them with the support they have earned,” CMS principal Michael Burns said in his opening remarks.
During the event, choral students sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and the 7/8 Grade Band played “America the Beautiful.” Members of Ghent V.F.W. Post 5933 and American Legion Post 42 in Chatham, with help from students, presented the flags that represent each branch of the armed services and those of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.
Now in his nineties, Mr. Mesick sat in the front row with his wife and family, dressed in the uniform jacket he wore more than 70 years ago, while his daughter, CMS teaching assistant Patricia Lanphear, shared from the stage some of the harrowing experiences he faced during his time in the service. Mesick landed in the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and helped liberate a concentration camp. The French government awarded Mesick the Croix de Guerre, a high military honor, for heroic actions he took while defending a French town from a German attack. He received the medal years after the war, Mrs. Lanphear noted, on the very stage on which she now stood.
After Mrs. Lanphear’s remarks, all the veterans in the audience were asked to stand and be recognized while the crowd applauded their service. The lights were then darkened for a slideshow of photos students and staff collected to represent their many family members who served or currently serve in the armed forces.
The event concluded with a flag folding ceremony, a moment of silence, and the playing of taps. Afterward, the school hosted a reception in the CMS Library with refreshments for the veterans, guests, and students who participated in the event.