Veterans’ Day Hall Welcomes Alumni and Parent Veterans

Roxbury Latin commemorates Veterans’ Day not as a day to close school but as an opportunity to gather in Hall to hear from men and women who have served in the military. SInging hymns and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the students also hear again what all but the newest members of the School have heard in previous Veterans’ Day Halls: the story behind the day that marked the end of the war to end all wars, first known as Armistice Day.

This year, our speaker was Ross MacDonald, known here at School for his leadership of Roxbury Latin’s inaugural summer theater production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He first acquainted himself with RL last winter as director of the Junior Play, and will continue his art as he interprets and produces this year’s Junior Play, Pirates of Penzance. But on this Veterans’ Day stage, Ross spoke about another part of his life, his tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007 in service to his own country, Great Britain. “There are strong similarities between the Army and theatre,” Ross said. “As in theatre, in the Army you need good planning, perfect preparation, there is never too much rehearsal, and you need to listen and react to the environment.” One difference—a critical one—between the Army and perhaps every other human organization, he noted, was that even if you really dislike someone in your platoon, you can (and must) trust him with your life. “Whatever happens, you need each other.”

The Headmaster welcomed members of our community present in Thursday’s Hall who have served our country in the armed forces: Ed Ellison, Steve Ward, Mo Richardson ’47, David Keane ’55, Dick Whitney ’57, Dave Marchand ’57, Bob Powers ’66, John Lawler ’75, Luke Day ’86, and Joe Hanrahan ’87. Ray Henderson ’10 came back for the morning from the Coast Guard Academy where he is in his first year.

From the Headmaster’s introduction:

Last Year United States Senator John (“Jack”) Reed from Rhode Island addressed us on Veterans’ Day about the challenges facing all of us at this critical juncture in our history. The year before we heard from a distinguished member of the Class of 1954, Rear Admiral Harold Bernsen, who reminded us that there are some alternatives to war that are worse than war itself—loss of human dignity, loss of freedom—but the avoidance of “wars of choice” (ill advised, ideologically motivated, or simply wrong) is the greatest gift we can give to veterans of the future.… Three years ago we heard from Jeff Adams ’97, a graduate of Annapolis and a Navy helicopter pilot. His testimony reminded us of the fact that the service of veterans, while an essential factor throughout our country’s history, is just as relevant today as the United States wages war in Iraq and Afghanistan and service people make secure our country’s borders on land, sea, and air.

It was our founder’s hope that RL would prepare boys for service. William Kennedy ’77, pilot Jeff Adams ’97, Mike Lawrie ’01, Mark and Brent Powers ’02, Dom Pellegrini ’04, Larry Sullivan ’04, James Astrue ’05, and Zach Ciccolo ’05 represent our best hopes as they currently serve our country. Others, like recent RL graduates Stu Corless ’09 at Johns Hopkins and Matt Neelon ’09 at Duke in ROTC programs, and Ray Henderson ’10 at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, anticipate future service. The inclination to serve our country is a natural extension of Eliot’s admonition to serve, as he said, “in Church and Commonwealth."

(See photos from the Hall)

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