DeMello students celebrate veterans at assembly

By Douglas McCulloch | Nov 09, 2017
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch Retired Coast Guard veteran Norman Barrett with his great granddaughters, Callie Peters, 9, and Rachel Peters, 8.

Lacey St. Jean has a message for DeMello Elementary School students: no one is too old to own a teddy bear.

St. Jean, a warrant officer in the United States Army, is no exception. Speaking at the school’s second annual Veterans Day assembly, she showed students a framed stuffed teddy bear that she took with her on her first tour of duty in Iraq.

It helped her through her time spent in Iraq, and once returning to the United States, she gave it to a friend to take with them to Afghanistan. Now, it sits framed along with other mementos from St. Jean’s service.

Following her brief speech, she left the students of DeMello with three important take-aways: boys and girls can become anything they want, always keep learning - St. Jean went back to college and earned her bachelor's degree after returning from Iraq - and, most importantly, you’re never too old to have a teddy bear.

Others, like Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9059 President Trudi Marshall, took the opportunity to spread awareness about the VFW Auxiliary. The VFW recently celebrated its 70th anniversary and the Auxiliary its 25th anniversary.

Norman Barrett, a Coast Guard veteran, ran into his great granddaughters Rachel and Callie Peters after the assembly. He was most moved by the final event, a school-wide performance of God Bless America.

“I loved when they sang to us,” he said. “It really touched me.”

The Veterans Day assembly drew active and retired military members from families of DeMello students, and members of the Dartmouth Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9059. It’s the school’s second assembly.

As the assembly came to a close, Principal Catherine Pavao left students with her message: spend the day off on November 10 thinking about what Veterans Day is truly about.

Lacey St. Jean and her teddy bear with other veterans and school officials. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
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