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University of Maine at Fort Kent education students connect veterans with fifth grade students

November 7, 2003


University of Maine at Fort Kent education students in Priscilla Daigle's curriculum and instruction class helped bring about a better understanding of the commemoration of Veteran's Day to area fifth grade students of SAD 27.

Amy Kelly, a Canadian education student from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island spearheaded the group of student teachers that brought together nine veterans, who served or are presently serving in the military of the United States and Canada. The honored guests spoke with students on the meaning of Veteran's Day, why we celebrate it, and how it came about.

Kelly served as the master of ceremonies, introducing the participants in the session and the veterans.

Kimberly Anne McKinnon of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia read the poem Flander's Field by John McCrae, the Reply to Flander's Field by John Mitchell as well as the poem entitled The Unknown Soldier by Billy Rose.

Jeremiah Jeff Ryan of New Waterford, Nova Scotia interacted with the students asking what this holiday honoring our veterans meant to them.

Michael Steven McNeil of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia explained to the students how November 11 was designated Armistice Day by Great Britain, France and the United States after World War I. In 1954, Congress changed the name to Veteran's Day, in honor of the veterans of all wars, and in 1971, the celebration of Veteran's Day began.

"In Canada this day became known as Remembrance Day," said McNeil. "Each November 11, Canadians honor the soldiers who fought and died in war, and schools across the countries have ceremonies, laying wreaths, and playing the post, which is played on a trumpet. After this there is a two minute period of silence."

The students were also given a presentation by Laura-Lee Eppy MacDonald of Inverness, Nova Scotia. She spoke on the establishment of the United Nations on October 24, 1945.

According to MacDonald, the UN was formed by fifty-one countries and has grown to 191 member countries today with the UN headquarters in New York and the International Court located at The Hague in the Netherlands.

MacDonald also explained the purpose of the UN Security Council and its responsibilities to the students.

Kelly introduced the veterans representing the many branches of the military. As they were introduced each man spoke to the students telling them a little bit about themselves; where they were from, what branch and division of the military they served with, where they served and why they initially joined the military.

Lester Dubois of Fort Kent, who served in Vietnam, spoke about his experiences during wartime, what it meant to lose a fellow soldier, a friend, and what Veteran's Day should mean to everyone. He asked the students how many of them know someone who is serving in Iraq right now.

Many hands went up as Dubois explained why Veterans Day, or Remembrance Day as it is known in Canada, is so important to the military men that served their countries. He stressed that the true heroes of war are not the men who came home, but the men who gave their lives for their country and freedom.

In addition to Dubois, eight other veterans spoke with the students. They are Phil Cyr and Edmund Theriault of Eagle Lake; Anthony Gauvin, Donald Pelletier, Lloyd Dumond, Irvin Roy, Roland Dumond and Alban Bouchard a commander in the American Legion, all of Fort Kent.

A question and answer period allowed the students to speak with the individual veterans. Kelly and the student education team closed the session by pinning poppies on the SAD 27 students.