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Gunnery Sgt. Jerry Richardson (seated, right) of the U.S. Marine Corps talks to BHS students about his service during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Richardson is also a member of Wounded Warriors of CT/NY/MA. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Assembly introductions included recognizing veteran U.S. Marine Corp. Lt. Col. and Branford Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez (standing, right). Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
As a compilation of the country's military marches were played by the BHS band, veterans stood for their branch's march. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
BHS students filled a morning assembly honoring 40 local military veterans during the 20th Annual BHS Bob Bescher Veterans Appreciation Day on Nov. 10. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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On Nov. 10, 40 honored guests serving in military actions from World War II to modern day shared first-hand accounts of their service with Branford High School (BHS) students, during the 20th annual BHS Anthony "Bob" Bescher Veterans Appreciate Day event at the school.
The veterans were celebrated during a morning assembly before breaking into small group discussions in classrooms and later enjoying lunch with students and staff. The program, presented by BHS Student Council and BHS Horizons, included introductions of the veterans by Student Council advisor and Horizons teacher Sal Zarra. The BHS band played stanzas of each military branch's march song and veterans from each corresponding Armed Service unit stood at attention during their march song. BHS Music Makers performed patriotic music.
BHS principal Lee Panagoulias asked the assembled students to join him in honoring the sacrifice and service of veterans "here and abroad."
"A day like today is not only a time to honor our veterans, but to ask them to share their experiences with us as the ultimate form of informing our students and introducing them to some awesome examples of contributing members of society," said Panagoulias.
Veteran Army Sgt. and BHS teacher David Gruendel encouraged students not only to listen and learn from the day's guests but to also recognize characteristics in the veterans that the students may have in themselves which can help them contribute to the world in some way.
"Listen, learn, think; ask questions, then go find out what you want to be a part of and then go do it," Gruendel told the students.
To thunderous cheers from the student body, Gruendel also introduced one of the country's newest U.S. Army Privates, BHS Class of 2018 member Yael Green, who completed Army Combat training this past summer and will be working on his advanced individual training after graduation. Zip06/The Sound caught the moment with a Facebook live feed, see it here
The day's small group presentations put students in the room with veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Cold War Era, Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan and active duty military.