WHITMAN — Students of Duval Elementary School offered thanks to those in military and public service — often at full volume — during the school’s annual We Remember ceremonies Friday, May 27.
The school hosted town officials, veterans and members of the Duval family for the program, which included recitation of student writing and quotes from historic documents as well as music.
Guests were invited to speak and retired Navy SEAL, Lt. Cmdr Anthony T. O’Brien led a group of students, clad in some of his old camouflage fatigue blouses, in saluting the five military branches as classmates yelled out, “Thank you for your service!”
“Serving is not just about those who serve in the military,” OBrien said, noting members of the police and fire departments also serve their community. “You know who else serves? Teachers. You’ve got a lot of really great talent among your teachers. They could be doing other things, but they’re here serving.”
He encouraged the children to thank teachers and public service officers, too.
After the program introduction by Duval Principal Julie McKillop, the program was turned over to students. It culminated in members of the faculty and student body honoring family members who have served with the placement of tiny American flags on a wreath, which was displayed in the school lobby for the rest of the day.
“This weekend is huge as far as remembering all of the military who have lost their lives by protecting our freedom and our rights,” said Thomas McCarthy of the Whitman Veterans’ Services office. “Please remember them. That’s why we’re still here and still free. … This weekend is not just about hot dogs and hamburgers.”
O’Brien echoed McCarthy’s message.
“Be by the pool, have a hot dog, enjoy — I’m gonna, too,” he said. “But for some of us, it’s a much more solemn time, too, because we lost some friends.”
Whitman Selectman Daniel Salvucci, whose father in-law served in WWII also spoke to the assembly about respecting those who serve their country.
“We are here today because of them,” Salvucci said. “If you know someone who served, just say ‘thank you,’ because they have done the most amazing thing — protecting us.”
The program was also a chance for the students to say goodbye to Assistant Principal Dr. Elizabeth Wilcox, who takes over as principal of Hanson’s Maquan Elementary School on July 1.
“Dr. Wilcox puts lots of time and energy into this program,” said McKillop. “[She] gets to go to a new school next year, so I think we should take a minute to thank her for all the work she does.”
The audience gave Wilcox a warm and sustained round of applause.