Brooklyn Middle School students salute veterans

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Brooklyn - posted Mon., Nov. 14, 2011
Sherri Vogt and her daughter, Heather, after the assembly. Photos by D. Coffey.
Sherri Vogt and her daughter, Heather, after the assembly. Photos by D. Coffey.

The Brooklyn Middle School auditorium was filled to capacity on Wednesday, Nov. 9, for a Veterans Day assembly sponsored by the students in the National Junior Honor Society.

NJHS member Dylan Clarkin welcomed the crowd, and Alyssa Rainey read, “What is Veterans Day.” Other NJHS members read excerpts of letters written by veterans over the years. They included writings from the Revolutionary War to the present-day wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The crowd of teachers, students, veterans and guests fell silent, as IT teacher Glen Lessig called Sgt. Brian Lancey via Skype at his post in Afghanistan. The 40-year-old platoon sergeant was serving one of several tours of duty. He took questions from his nephew, seventh-grader Joshua Lancey, as the audience listened in rapt attention.

Lancey was 10 years old when he knew he wanted a military career. He enlisted in the delayed entry program and shipped off to basic training a week after graduating from high school. He left the service for 10 years before rejoining and making it a career.

“Do you miss your family?” Joshua asked his uncle.

“Yes and no,” Lancey replied, explaining that as an infantryman, there were few opportunities to do his job. “This is one time I get to do it,” he said. “I'll be happy to see my family,” he added, “but I will miss my family here, too.” In the one-floor barracks he shares with his troops, there was a special bond among them, he said.

Lancey recommended the military when his nephew asked. “You build lifelong friends. You get educational benefits. I've traveled to Korea, Germany, Iraq, England, France and Afghanistan,” he said. “It's made me appreciate the United States very much. People don't realize how fortunate they are until they see how little other people have.”

The Skype connection went blank for a minute, but Lancey called back from Afghanistan. The auditorium erupted in applause.

Guest veterans were in attendance in the auditorium. NJHS members read their introductions as each veteran went to the stage to be recognized. Veterans representing the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and National Guard were on hand. There were combat medics and engineers, mechanics and surveyors, communications personnel and drill sergeants.

Reading and language arts teacher Jim Schaffer reminded the audience that some veterans never came home after leaving for combat. He read a long list of locations throughout the world where servicemen and women have fought and died for the United States.

Music and chorus director Trish Dehl led the chorus in “Homeward Bound,” by Marta Keen. A slide show of veterans through the years played while the students sang the soft, haunting words that have become an anthem for many veterans returning from service.

Tyler Metivier played “Taps,” and there was a moment of silence to remember those veterans no longer with us, and those who never returned home.

Sherri Vogt was given a check for $50 for the charitable work she does for veterans. Every year, Vogt provides boxers and briefs to shelters serving homeless veterans in Connecticut.

Retired Navy SEAL George Sipila said he thought all citizens should serve the country in one way or another. “There are many ways of serving,” he said, “including the Peace Corps.”

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