Nov, 17-2009 4:52 pm
By SUZANNE MARINO
NORTHFIELD – Veterans Day at the Northfield Community School is a special event. Over the last three years, sixth-grade teacher Mary Ann Devine has developed a research project that allows students to learn firsthand about veterans and their experiences as members of the military.
It’s better than reading a book or watching a movie, as students can interview the veterans or people who knew them, take pictures and listen to their stories; then they create a display board with the information.
For some, like David Wilson, it was a chance to learn more about the grandfather he is named after, who passed away in 2008.
Wilson sat down with his father and went through old photos and memorabilia. It was an opportunity to remember Grandpa in a different light.
After students prepared their boards and gave their reports, they took their project one step further and invited veterans to the school for a program in their honor. This year, 46 veterans representing the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and the Coast Guard from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf War and active military were honored. Students held signs and cheered as the veterans entered the gymnasium, and the men, a few still fitting in their uniforms, could feel like heroes once again.Devine revived a tradition that has fallen by the wayside since World War II:
She presented service banners to the mothers of men and women currently serving in the military.She explained that many decades ago, women who had men serving in the war were issued a Blue Star Flag that was to be hung in their front window to let others know that a member of the service lived there, and the family was waiting and praying for him to come home safely.“Mothers dreaded the knock on the door that would be an officer or deliveryman bringing the message that their son had been killed or was missing in action,” Devine said.“He would bring the mother a gold star that was to be sewn over the blue star, indicating the soldier had died in service to his nation.”
She said that after the war the use of the Blue Star Flag tailed off.Devine had the banners made up for all of the mothers present who have sons and daughters serving in the military.She presented a Blue Star Flag to sixth-grade teacher Carol Willett, whose son Maj. Terrence Willett is currently serving in the Army. Other teachers at the school who have sons serving in the military and to whom Devine presented a Blue Star Flag are Natalie Fisher, for her son Lt. Peter Fisher, Navy; Betty Ann Miller, for her son Airman Christopher Miller, Air National Guard; Kathy Faust, for her son Cpl. Matthew Faust, Army and Devine’s mother, Doris Kelly, for her son Capt. Greg Kelly, Naval Reserve.
The student’s Veterans Day project boards are being displayed in stores, at City Hall and the Northfield library though Dec. 4.
An organization called the Blue Star Mothers of America Inc. has chapters in nearly every state, including New Jersey. It was chartered by Congress in June of 1960. The practice of displaying a service flag began during World War I and became more widespread in the Second World War, according to the organization’s website. For information see http://www.bluestarmothers.org/."
NCS remembers veterans – and their mothers Shore News Today: