Veterans Day at Woodbury

November 22, 2013

by S. Aaron Shamshoyan

It’s a tradition for students and staff at Woodbury Middle School to honor veterans, and this year, Keynote Speaker Marine Tom Kelley shared his thanks for the support he has received from friends and strangers alike.

“Thank you for being here, being at the docks when I came home, being at the airport, supporting all of us,” Kelley said to fellow veterans and attendees.  “Shaking our hands, waving the flag, you didn’t know us, you didn’t have to do it but you did.”

Kelley is a Salem firefighter who formerly served in the U.S. Marine Corp.  He said the support he received upon his return has helped him get through the past experience.  “Shortly after I was deployed, I went overseas,” he said.  “I did things I never thought I would do.”  Returning to a massive crowd of people supporting him was overwhelming.  “That was the greatest gift of all to see that,” he said.

Other guest speakers included Governor Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH.

Hassan, the daughter of a soldier, said her father gained valuable knowledge while enlisted, helping him achieve lifelong success.  “The skills he learned in the United States Army gave him strong discipline for the rest of his life,” she said.

Speaking to veterans in attendance, Hassan thanked them for serving.  “Because of all you, our country is safer,” she said.  “We owe you a debt of gratitude that we can never truly repay.”

Holding the annual Woodbury ceremony is important for students, Hassan said.  “It’s really important all of you learn about and appreciate sacrifices made.”

Senator Ayotte thanked Kelley for his service.  “You represent the very best of New Hampshire,” she said, also thanking family members who support soldiers and veterans.

Ayotte told students to thank veterans for their service and talk to them.  “This is your future, your opportunity to see what is the greatness of our country.”

Ayotte also thanked student essayists for their views on veterans.  “To hear you speak about what Veterans Day means to you is inspiring for all of us,” she said.

New Hampshire Adjutant General Maj. Gen. William Reddel wore a soldier’s uniform and said he would not take it off until all the state’s soldiers returned home as a reminder of their sacrifice.

Students Cheryl Dyson and Christian Chaisson read essays about their thoughts on what Veterans Day means to them.

The jazz band and chorus performed during the ceremony and members of the Salem High School Air Force JROTC conducted a POW/MIA remembrance routine.