World War II Army veteran Bob Eaton and Korean War Navy veteran Ron Orchard each gave Southport Central School students a brief lesson about military history during their presentations at the school Friday morning, Nov. 9. Eaton, Orchard and 10 other Southport veterans were guests at the school’s Veterans Breakfast, held in honor of Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
As school staff filled the plates with food – scrambled eggs, fruit, muffins (each topped with a paper flag) – and the cups with coffee or orange juice, the students served the veterans and their guests seated in teacher Shawn Gallagher’s classroom, which was decorated with handmade signs and decorations.
Once everyone was fed, the students presented a program of songs and more. After leading the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America,” the 23 students, led by guidance and cultural studies teacher Meredith Fowlie, sang the songs of the four main branches of the military: Army - “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” Navy - Anchor's Aweigh,” Air Force - “The U.S. Air Force,” and Marine Corps - “The Marines' Hymn.”
Eaton, who is in his 90s, then told the students of his experience meeting and shaking the hand of a 101-year-old Civil War veteran when he was a young student. Eaton said the veteran told him of his experience shaking the hand of a Revolutionary War veteran.
“I want to pass this tradition along so if you want to shake my hand and perhaps keep the tradition going if you happen to join the military, I will do so today,” said Eaton, who then shook the hands of several of the students.
Orchard, who recently joined three other local veterans — Walter “Scottie” Scott, Dan Jameson and Paul Adams — on an Honor Flight Maine trip to Washington, D.C. to view the various military monuments, talked about the trip while some photos taken on it were shown on a screen behind him.
The hour-long program concluded with Gallagher’s students displaying banners they had made, showing the words of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and each of the students talked about the meaning of the different verses. Students handed out handmade booklets to the veterans as they departed.