Thursday November 19, 2015
South Burlington residents and high school students packed the high school gymnasium Wednesday, November 11, to honor local veterans and to thank them for their service. South Burlington High School (SBHS) Principal Patrick Burke opened the event by recognizing district employees who had served in various branches of the military. These included Ed Darling (English department) Army, Caryl Davidson (School Nurse) Army, Stan Sankowski (Academic Support) Navy, Tom Kessler (Math department) Navy, Dom Marabella (Student Support) Air Force, Jerry Normindin (Campus Safety) Air Force, Greg Engleken (Special Education) Air Force, Steve Barner (Technology Education) Army, Deb Bennett (Special Education) Navy, and David Young (District Superintendent) Army. Burke pointed out that all military families make sacrifices including the SBHS staff members and added that “The military is not political . . . serving is not a partisan act.”
The SBHS chamber singers followed with a harmonious take on the National Anthem, led by Aimee Bushey. Karen Bohman, who organized the event, introduced high school senior Nubia Pickering who gave a speech titled, “Why US Veterans are our Heroes.” Pickering asked the audience, “What do you envision when you think of a hero? Superman, Wonder Woman?” Pickering went on to explain why veterans are heroic and cited their willingness to “lay down their lives for their country.” She added that veterans play an important role in teaching us about our past and provide great examples of how to do the right thing in difficult situations. Pickering honored the veterans in the room and said, “We will always need people to inspire us by their convictions.”
Jay Zaetz, of the South Burlington Veterans Committee introduced keynote speaker LT Scott McCann who is the United States Coast Guard Northern New England Command Center Chief in South Portland, Maine. McCann held the attention of the student body with his story of being in the US Coast Guard, when he suddenly had to shift his focus to an operation in Iraq in 2005. “Veterans are all unique and are a cross section of the public,” McCann said, adding, “We all took our oath and had indoctrination through boot camps, but in the military, you sign up for anything and sometimes you don’t get a choice about what you do.” He implored the students to think about the military personnel who are missing their families, the lives affected, people who can’t sleep in their own beds at night, and those who may never come home.
The 40-minute assembly at the high school was followed by a brief ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park where Dorothy Fisk and Leigh Fisher of the Green Mountain Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a wreath at the granite memorial.
Zaetz, who was integral in the development of Veterans Memorial Park as well as a catalyst for the name change from Dorset Park, added that there are now 425 personalized pavers in the Pathway of Honor. Those interested in purchasing a paver to honor a veteran can contact the Department of Recreation and Parks. New pavers must be ordered by June to be included in the next section which will be installed in September 2016.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent