Honoring Heroes: Local students celebrate Veterans

Staff photo by Grace Pecci First-grade students at Charlotte Avenue Elementary School in Nashua on Friday read letters of the alphabet in correspondence with the book ‘H is for Honor’ to honor veterans.

With Veterans Day set for Sunday, students in the Greater Nashua area are recognizing the hard work and dedication of those who have given service to our country.

Charlotte Avenue Elementary School conducted an assembly on Friday for students to give thanks to the veterans. Third-grade teacher Julie Ota said this was the sixth-annual Veterans Day celebration.

“We invite all the veterans in our families, all the students’ and staff’s family, to come and join us so we can honor and celebrate them,” Ota said. “I always made a big deal out of Veterans Day in my third-grade classroom. My grandfather was a veteran and so I used to do lots of activities with the kids. And the music teacher at the time had a lot of vets in her family and she said, ‘Well, why don’t we do something?'”

Ota said students read the book “H is for Honor, A Military Family Alphabet.” During the assembly, different students from every grade – kindergarten through fifth grade – took turns reading letters of the alphabet. Once the students were done reading each letter, they set up certain letters that would eventually spell out “Thank You.”

Students from each grade also sang a song thanking the veterans for their service. A slideshow with pictures of all the veterans related to students and teachers was on display, as well.

Later in the afternoon, students and officials at James Mastricola Upper Elementary School in Merrimack also celebrated veterans by inviting students’ relatives who served and having multiple veterans speak with the students.

Assistant Principal Bill Morris said he wanted students to understand the importance of the holiday.

About 20 veterans attended the celebration. Multiple students spoke, thanking them for their service. All the students and veterans were invited to sing along to patriotic songs such as “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the assembly.

Merrimack firefighter and U.S. Army veteran Dan Newman was a keynote speaker at the assembly. Newman, who has served in many countries, in battle and in peace, joked with the audience, “It’s easier to go after the enemy than it is to get kids to brush their teeth and get their homework done.”

Newman said Veterans Day is a special day for the country. “And you guys are leading the way, with the way you treat us,” he told the students.

He reminded students to remember the whole family, not just the veterans. “The family members who are left at home have a more difficult job while we are away,” Newman said. Newman’s family was in attendance. Four out of his five children have attended JMUES.

While he was speaking, he also mentioned Honor Flight New England, which he and another keynote speaker, Honor Flight New England Founder Joe Byron, do together. Honor Flight New England is a service that transports World War II and Korean War veterans on a free trip to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Byron showed students a video of the group’s activities.

Byron told students, “I am the most fortunate person in New England because I am happy to do what I do.”

He finished by telling students, “I want to say thank you for who you are, thank you for who you become and thank you for having me here.”