November 11th marks Veteran’s Day across the nation and the Boys’ Latin campus. Each year, the school puts down their work and gathers for an assembly of acknowledgment and celebration of veterans both in and outside the school community. This year’s Veteran’s Day Assembly was yet another successful ceremony that served as a reminder of the sacrifice which military members and their families endure.
This year’s assembly featured a video presentation dedicated to veterans and their families followed by a speech by Boys’ Latin alum and Navy veteran Mitchel Hendler. The video presentation gave a window into the hardships military families face while being apart from each other and finished with pictures of Boys’ Latin alumni who have or continue to serve in the military. After the emotional video was played, Hendler gave a speech about what it is veterans fight for and related it to the recent protests in the NFL.
Hendler, being a Veteran, was able to give a unique look into the touchy subject of kneeling during the National Anthem. He explained that the United States Military fights to protect the Constitution, which protects the rights of the NFL protesters. Hendler’s meaningful speech was a powerful explanation of why veterans join the armed forces and what they stand for.
After the assembly held in the Iglehart, the community made its way over to the Alumni House where there is a memorial for all Boys’ Latin students who lost their lives fighting for the United States. A wreath-laying ceremony then took place, with Headmaster Chris Post, Mr. Butch Maisel, and Hendler placing the wreath in front of the memorial which has the names of the fallen students inscribed on it.
Aside from the normal ceremonies, Maisel brought several World War II and Korean War Veterans into the newly opened Military History Museum. Lower and upper school students lined the hallways to get a glimpse of these veterans as they made their way into the museum to see the displays that honor them. The museum is now a new way to educate and celebrate what service men and women have done to help protect the country.
Mr. Ryan Hopkins is a history teacher in the middle school who has had several close relatives serve in the armed forces. Hopkins said Veteran’s Day makes him “more aware of the people that made contributions and sacrifices for our country, who don’t choose to talk about it, but yet were really important parts of our history.” Hopkins’ father served in the Vietnam War, but never talked about it, and Hopkins believes that it is men like his father who deserve to be recognized on November 11th.
Since coming to Boys’ Latin in 2013, Hopkins has noticed the effect that the annual Veteran’s Day assembly has had on his outlook on the day. In his 25 years of teaching, he said, “I’ve never taught at a school that has a consistent and well-planned and well-thought-out remembrance of Veteran’s Day.” He believes that this well-organized assembly keeps the meaning of Veteran’s Day in the front of his mind more often, and he, in turn, applies it to his classes.
Brandon Kagen is one of the three student body leaders and believes that Veteran’s Day “is a time to reflect on and be thankful for the people who dedicate their lives to me.” Both of his grandfathers served in the army, and he believes that they have helped shape him into the person he is today.
Overall, Kagen felt that the Veteran’s Day ceremonies were very well done and effective in getting the message across to the student body. Kagen enjoyed the guest speaker and said, “Hearing from a veteran was one thing, but since he was a BL guy too it really hit home.” The different perspective of Hendler’s speech sparked thought in Kagen, who had never thought to look through that perspective, saying it “really helped open my eyes to today’s climate.”
The acknowledgment and honoring of Veteran’s Day is a unique occurrence which Boys’ Latin takes pride in each year. Maisel, while unable to be interviewed, puts in countless hours to ensure that each Veteran’s Day honors those who have served with the highest regard and gratitude. Without Maisel, Boys’ Latin’s tradition would not have the same gravity which it now holds in the community.