Photo: WWII Veteran Jim Boozier at Friday’s ceremony.
The students flanked the walkway at the entrance of Belmont High School where just a week previous several strode with their dates to the buses taking them to this year’s prom.
The young freshmen, sophomores, and juniors – the newly-liberated seniors were spending a day in community service – were in marked contrast to the aging men who now filed between them towards the white flagpost at the foot of Clay Pit Pond on the warm May morning.
As the school’s marching band played “Anchors Away,” the assembled students gave a steady applause to the men who marched before them, who once, just a few years older than the present students, put on their country’s uniform to defend the nation.
The yearly observance of Memorial Day at Belmont schools – at the High School and the Butler and Winn Brook this year – allows the generation that served and fought to be a testament to students of sacrifice for a greater good.
The dozen or so veterans – who served in all branches of the armed services from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan – stood under the flag pole as speeches were made and lessons taught.
“The bitter lesson of history is that freedom is never guaranteed,” said Belmont High Principal Dan Richards.
“It is only those great and noble men and women who have been our guaranteers of our freedoms who we have come here to honor and those who are not able to join us, we owe you more than any ceremony can recognize,” said Richards.
For the veterans, the day is special for the recognition of their service as well as the opportunity to be a living history lesson.
“Twice a year, the veterans who come to these programs, we feel like rock stars when we leave for the day,” said Roger “Kip” Gaudet, Jr., commander of the Waverley VFW Post 1272 on Trapelo Road.
While it is an emotional time for the honorees to participate in the annual observations, “but it means more to us to have you people come out and support what we’ve done in the past,” said Gaudet.
“We are the Old Guards of the freedoms that you have today. And you people standing out here, are the guards of our future freedoms,” he said.
“Freedom is not free. There is a price to be paid for it,” said Gaudet.