Thursday, November, 17, 2005

School thanks veterans for service to country

Staff Writer

For the third year in a row, Marshall Academy students stood in bright morning sun and thanked veterans with song, a reading and prayer Friday.

Veterans seemed to enjoy the attention and one, Billy Newsom, briefly described where he was when World War II was ended by the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan.

Rebecca Thompson thanked God for veterans, “our honored guests here today. Let them know we appreciate all they have done.”

The second grade class of Jane Farris and Bridget Dailey sang “America the Beautiful” and “Our Country ’Tis of Thee.”

Michael Farese read a letter to school children from President George Bush.

Newsom, who was serving in the Pacific Air Force during World War II, thanked students, teachers and Marshall Academy for holding a Veterans’ Day program.

“It makes us feel appreciated,” he said.

During his last days of service in the South Pacific, Newsom said the Air Force had been practicing bombing in Clark Field in the Philippines. He had been to Okinawa and was coming back to the Philippines when he heard over the radio that the U.S. had bombed Hiroshima and a few weeks later that Japan had surrendered to Allied Forces.

“I have heard criticism over the years that the U.S. should not have dropped a bomb over Nagasaki and Hiroshima killing so many Japanese civilians,” Newsom said.

He said many American soldiers would have perished if the war had not ended quickly.

“If you don’t think I let out a whoop,” he said. “I was the happiest man in the whole service.”

Music director Chris Mirante told veterans the school uses the name Patriots.

“We call ourselves Patriots but we have no idea what it is like to be a patriot. So this song is for you,” he said.

The Patriot Performers then sang “God Bless America.”

Elaine Humphreys led the second grade bell choir.

Headmaster Tommy Gunn closed the ceremony by inviting veterans to spend the day at the school.

“Most people don’t realize how many sacrifices you have made,” Gunn said. “We appreciate you, we love you and we thank you for all that you do.”

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