Francestown Elementary School students take part in Memorial Day salute

By JOSH LACAILLADE

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-26-2023 2:31 PM

On Thursday, students, educators, community members and veterans gathered at the Francestown Elementary School to march toward to Cemetery No. 3 and honor veterans and their families. 

According to Vietnam War Army veteran Scott Carbee, the march has been a tradition for Francestown for more than 20 years, starting in the aftermath of 9/11 to honor Americans who have served. 

Community members began the ceremony by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a speech from Army veteran Bob Bitterli, who worked in Airborne services and navigation for eight years. 

During his speech, Bitterli said he served a vital role in the military in order to protect the safety of his troops and his country. 

“We learned to rappel off of helicopters and buildings, sometimes 30,000 feet in the air,” said Bitterli. “I also helped in disarming bombs, worked in research and development and even tested the earliest GPS systems.”

Following Bitterli’s speech, Francestown Elementary School students recited “In Flanders Fields,” and planted red poppies in front of the tombstone marked “To the Unknown Dead,” a Memorial Day tradition that dates back to World War I. 

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The ceremony concluded with a presentation of the wreaths and the playing of “Taps.”

Following the ceremony, Carbee said his experiences serving three tours in Vietnam has made him realize the true importance of Memorial Day. 

“Everybody had direction during the day, but chaos started at night when you got hit,” said Carbee. “But today, I’m just thinking of all the people who have served to make the United States so great and free.”

After years of being involved in the march and ceremony, Francestown Elementary School teacher Lauren Mann said it’s crucial for her students to appreciate veterans and to honor Memorial Day, both in and out of the classroom. 

“I think it’s really important for the kids to understand what it means to be a veteran and why we celebrate Memorial Day,” said Mann. 

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