LUDLOW, Vt. – The seventh annual Veterans Day Assembly, Friday, Nov. 8, at Ludlow Elementary School welcomed Gov. Phil Scott as part of their moving program to honoring veterans and active military members.
Students from Black River Middle High School, LES, Mount Holly Elementary School, and Cavendish Town Elementary School were all in attendance, as were the Ballard-Hobart Post 36 American Legion color guard, local decorated veterans, and other members of the community.
Gov. Scott began by reminding students that they don’t have to wait until Veterans Day to thank someone for their service. “You should take the time to thank a vet or any member of the military, every chance we get, every single day,” he said. He then asked all veterans and those serving in the Military to stand to be recognized.
Scott also paid special attention to those of “the greatest generation” who served in World War II and Korea. He spoke about his own father who served and was injured during WWII and died when he was 11.
Scott also spoke about the importance of listening to the stories of veterans while they are still among us. He spoke specifically about a 100-year-old WWII veteran, Sidney Walton, who is traveling the country visiting all 50 states to tell his stories and meet governors. Scott was the 24th governor that Walton visited. “It was a special day for me,” he said. “It’s so important for you, the younger generation, to do whatever you can to thank our vets and listen to their stories because they truly are heroes that set an example for all of us.”
In addition to Scott’s speech, the program included several student choral pieces; a presentation to honor Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action; a presentation of the flags of each of the branches of the military; and a moving final number with a recording of Celine Dion singing “God Bless America” accompanied by the LES fourth grade class using American Sign Language.
The program, celebrating its seventh year, is due to the vision and hard work of BRHS Booster Club President Andrea Sanford of Ludlow. According to an introduction by Color Guard Commander of American Legion Post 36, Ned Bowen, Sanford went to the School Board over seven years ago, asking why Veterans Day was an in-service day and didn’t honor veterans. Since then, Sanford has worked with the American Legion, students, and teachers to develop the program, which takes over three months to plan.
According to Sanford, it all started with an idea to bring more awareness to the kids that Veterans Day stood for something, and that they should have a day to think more deeply about people who fought for their freedom.
Sanford grew up during the Vietnam War and saw many friends go off to war and never return. Her dad was also in Military service. “It’s something that’s in my heart,” she said.
With Black River High School set to close at the end of the 2020 school year, this will be Sanford’s last assembly, although she is willing to work as a consultant in future years. “It’s never too young to teach them to honor and respect people who have died for their freedom… They get it,” she said.