Franklin County school ceremonies thank veterans for their service

U.S. Air Force veteran Joe Bucci is introduced during Erving Elementary School’s Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday.

U.S. Air Force veteran Joe Bucci is introduced during Erving Elementary School’s Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

U.S. Army veteran Dan Hammock speaks during Erving Elementary School’s Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday.

U.S. Army veteran Dan Hammock speaks during Erving Elementary School’s Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

U.S. Army veteran Jeff Neipp speaks during Erving Elementary School’s Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday.

U.S. Army veteran Jeff Neipp speaks during Erving Elementary School’s Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

By CHRIS LARABEE and JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writers

Published: 11-10-2023 5:00 PM

In anticipation of Veterans Day on Saturday, Erving Elementary School took the time to thank locals for their military service early.

Reprising tradition, Erving Elementary School staff and students celebrated the military service of around two dozen veterans at a ceremony on Thursday morning.

The service members were escorted into the gymnasium single file by loved ones as interim Principal David Krane introduced them. Students then performed the national anthem before Krane took the podium to recite the state’s Veterans Day proclamation.

After, Jeff Neipp, president of Vermont Chapter 1 of the Rolling Thunder advocacy group, thanked Erving “for remembering our veterans.”

“We all went to faraway places … to keep our country safe so that we can enjoy the freedom that our Constitution provides,” Neipp, who served in the Army, said of veterans.

He then spoke specifically to the purpose of Rolling Thunder, which recognizes service members who never came home.

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“We are the voice of the soldiers that remain missing,” Neipp said. “The empty chair at the kitchen table. We help the families of veterans when no one is there.”

An extended moment of silence followed Neipp’s speech. The quiet was broken by the strumming of a guitar chord, followed by the voices of student chorus members singing “The White Cliffs of Dover,” a hopeful World War II-era song composed in 1941 by Walter Kent to lyrics by Nat Burton. The ceremony then continued with a history of Veterans Day delivered by a group of sixth graders, followed by closing comments made by veterans.

“Who here likes to smile?” Army veteran Dan Hammock asked the kids in the audience.

Speaking on the children’s level, Hammock analogized a veteran to somebody with two pieces of candy who shares with somebody else. This, he said, is “service.” He encouraged the students to vocalize their gratitude when possible, given a parent’s permission to speak up to a stranger.

“If you say to that person wearing a hat, ‘Thank you for your service,’” he said, “you’ll make them smile.”

 

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081. Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.