Friday, November 11, 2016

Eleven Eleven @ Eleven

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae, 1915 

It's 11 - 11.  The annual Veteran's Day assembly culminated, as it does each year, with nearly 900 students filing silently out of the auditorium at 11 am, honoring the memory, sacrifice, and service of so many.  

I am proud to teach at Donegal, yet I am especially proud on Veteran's Day.  While the news and social media is filled with less than desirable tales of cruelty in schools, today at Donegal was filled with kindness.  the choir sang, the band played, The Voice of Democracy winner presented her winning paper, and sitting front and center, the veterans of our community, who were honored in a roll call by branch of service.  Sitting amidst them was Harold Billow -- the only living survivor of the Malmedy Massacre.    

This man is a genuine inspiration to our small community.  So much so, that more people called him "Pap" today, than by his given name. He was escorted by a graduate of Donegal, who worked on a National History Day project several years ago with Mr. Billow, who now regularly visits him, because of the deep bond they formed over that project.  There he was, in his original uniform, smiling broadly, adding an extra sparkle to a sense of national pride.

Yes, pride.  While each year there are more than a few tears shed and wiped away, Veteran's Day is celebrated, recognized, and immortalized for a generation of students who realize the responsibilities bestowed upon them, as they stand on the shoulders of giants who have served before.

One of whom is a slight man, who still fits in a uniform that he wore more than 60 years ago.