Blake Middle School held a truly remarkable assembly this morning to honor all veterans, but especially Vietnam era veterans. The new Vietnam Veterans Plaque was unveiled at the end- see the photo.
Principal Nat Vaughn presided with just the right touch to keep things moving along and to keep them profoundly emotionally moving at the same time.
About to be Eagle Scout, Sam Marble both lead the pledge of allegiance and also described how he created, permitted, and built the new patio that will eventually house the plaque in front of the school.
Former teacher John Parsons presented the gift of a flag that he had flown in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was assisted by BMS head custodian and Vietnam vet Bob Kadehjian. What a wonderful experience for the students to both hear from a former teacher and to see Bob through the lens of a different light.
Frank Iafolla delivered an extremely poignant speech recounting his first hand experiences graduating from MHS in 1967 and going into the Marines during a war that was not popular with many.
The town’s stellar Veterans Service Officer, Ron Griffin, woke up and energized the students with a loud greeting a la Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam. Ron delivered moving explanations of the names on the plaque, the two 19 year olds who were killed in Vietnam (Stephen Hinkley and Peter Kristof), and the many who have since died. Ron reminded each class of the other dedications of plaques to veterans of which they have been a part, and he had them literally talking back to him as they recalled each. He was having a personal conversation with all 700 students in the gym at once. Ron handled his talk with verve, solemnity, and mastery of the task. Most importantly, he had those gathered acknowledge and honor the veterans who were present. There about a dozen Vietnam vets and about two dozen other vets attending.
The final speech was by BMS teacher Deb Manning, who shared the story of her father, an Air Force pilot killed in Vietnam when she was a toddler. Her account was incredibly moving and heart wrenching at the same time.
The students and all present were treated to a remarkable event. We were all reminded that freedom is not free, not without a cost, a cost paid by our veterans, and that we have our veterans to thank for that freedom.
Medfield TV recorded the assembly, and you are encouraged to seek it out. It was a moving experience.