MANCHESTER – In a questionnaire given to a few dozen veterans attending the 16th Annual Veterans Recognition Ceremony at Manchester Township High School, the fondest memory that came up most commonly about their service was the friends they made.
These bonds were forged on a deep and personal level, and though they may have gone in other directions when their service was over, those memories remained.
It was important that those veterans be remembered, and that their stories be passed along, said English teacher Jill Ocone, who has lead this ceremony since the beginning.
She told the crowd gathered that she’s heard students say “Nothing ever happens in Manchester.”
However, in that very room, there were a few dozen service members who had experienced things they never could have imagined. They had explored the world, and been stationed as far as the arctic. They remembered Bob Hope’s shows for the troops, and served security for President Lyndon Johnson. They helped build the Berlin Wall.
These people all have amazing stories to tell, Ocone said. All you have to do is ask.
The veterans gathered together were asked to write a little about their service. They were asked to stand, if able, while a student told the crowd about what they did. Among them, an engineer doing tests on warheads, a spy, paratroopers,
They were also asked what advice they would give young people today:
“Join the military because it builds character.”
“Stay open-minded and know there are lots of people and cultures in the world.”
These sentiments were shared with the crowd, which was made up of a lot of students. Student leaders spoke about the history of that day, and helped in the ceremony.
The school’s ROTC presented the colors. The Concert Choir sang the Star-Spangled Banner and Homeward Bound. The Concert Band played a medley of the official song of each armed service. The veterans in attendance were encouraged to stand during the branch of service where they were a member.
Being a member of the military means there’s a chance you could not make it home. “Taps” was played, and there was a moment of silence for those lost.