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A memorial on every page

Kyleigh Gilcris shows Joe Berube his page in the book Groveton Elementary students made to remember their local veterans. (Photo by Jonathan Benton) (click for larger version)
June 02, 2010
GROVETON — Groveton Elementary fifth and third graders chose to remember their local veterans in a unique way by arranging past interviews with them into a book.

"We noticed that older veterans were passing away and wanted to make sure to honor them," said Groveton Elementary teacher Brenda Tilton.

It was a social studies lesson three years in the making as the students conducted the interviews in 2007 and have only recently been able to raise the funds to make the hard cover memories. Each book page has a basic bio of each veteran with info regarding military branch, where they were stationed and fondest memory.

"I think it's cool that they actually get noticed," said Ruthanne Murray who interviewed her father Lloyd Murray. "I didn't know he learned to take apart a gun apart and put it back together blindfolded."

The presentation of the books was preceded by a public ceremony at Soldiers' Monument in town. The entire elementary school emptied out to watch the event last Wednesday. After the Pledge of Allegiance and a young chorus of The Star Spangled Banner, teachers Mrs. Tilton, Lorna Holcombe and Jill Colby had their third and fifth grade students walk up to a podium one by one to read aloud the names of the veterans that participated in the interviews. This was followed by a moment of silence for those in the book that had passed away since the project started: Albert Auger, Louis Frechette, and William Cowie. High School Sophomore Tyler Burt concluded the event solemnly playing taps.

With veteran Dan Peel leading the march the group proceeded to the after party at St. Francis Hall. There, the third and fifth graders presented each veteran with a copy of the white hard cover book and waited on them with refreshments. Each student had their own copy and gleefully ran around trying to gain a signature from each veteran.

"It's fun, we've been practicing songs and learned a poem on how to fold the flag," said Khaley Styles.

According to Mrs. Tilton they had to raise $2,047.38 to cover the cost of 100 books which involved a number of bake sales and make your own sundae fundraisers.

"That's me in Germany," said Airforce veteran Joe Berube pointing out his younger self to student Kyleigh Gilcris. During the Vietnam war Mr. Berube was stationed in Europe maintaining the safety of three missile sites aimed at the Communist Bloc. Each missile was armed with up to five nuclear warheads. He also spent time in California scrambling outgoing and unscrambling incoming transmissions.

"I learned that they went to many countries and fought for independence and that it wasn't easy," said student Corey Gadwah.

A special seven page insert hand written by Arthur Gould accounting his service during World War II was included in every book. Mr. Gould served in the navy at the Island of Leyte in the Philippines to keep an eye on the Japanese. As part of the 508th Military Police, Mr. Gould recounted guarding his ship, supplies and even nurses in the Red Cross from other Navy men.

A small clip show of the students interviewing the veterans was playing with music in the back of the hall during the brunch and was receiving very little attention. That is until a small group of boys started singing along with the music. This impromptu action had the other students joining in until there was a line of them arm over shoulder singing "If you love your country thank a vet"

Mrs. Tilton still has copies of the book to be picked up by those that weren't present.

Martin Lord & Osman
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