"It is the soldier who serves the flag and whose coffin lays under the
flag that allows the protester to burn the flag," Vice Principal Mary
The message was even more poignant as U.S. troops are fighting
overseas. More than 100 parents and community members attended the
service, sitting in pews decorated by hand-colored flags and drawings of
the Statue of Liberty.
Two American flags were displayed overhead. One on each side of a
banner that read, "God Bless America." The patriotic display perfectly
framed the permanent fixture of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross --
epitomizing a mixture of church and state.
Tawny Safieddine, an eighth-grader, said the recent terrorist attacks
made her look at Veterans Day in a new light.
"It was so scary when it happened," Tawny said. "But we have to think
about how we can thank those who fought before and those who are going to
have to fight now."
Although it was the second year the school has hosted a Veterans Day
assembly, McMenamin reserved a larger room and received twice as many
volunteers this year, she said. The East Coast attacks have caused a
surge in patriotism and gave a new meaning to the sometimes overlooked
holiday, she said.
"Vets don't ask for thanks, and they seldom receive it," speaker and
ex-serviceman Jim Buote said.
He reminded people of the importance of national defense and the
dangers of letting down our guard. Former World War II veteran George
Newland echoed Buote's sentiments, saying he is thankful awareness is
being raised in the younger generations. It's an awareness that was
greatly lacking in the past, he said.
It "brings to their attention how important it is to defend the United
States," Newland said.
Allison Greenwood, a 13-year-old student, said she was already aware
because of her grandfather.
"He fought for his family because he loved everybody very much," she
said, "and that's why we celebrate."