Veterans Day guest speaker has decorated past

November 11, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Retired Marine Corps Sergeant Starlene Hamilton waits her turn to deliver keynote message Friday at Veterans Day recognition at Boonsboro High School. She is a teacher at the school.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Clopper-Michael Post 10 of the American Legion and Boonsboro High School marked their annual Veterans Day program Friday with a guest speaker from the school's own ranks.

Starlene Hamilton, a teacher at the school, is also retired from the U.S. Marine Corps.

"Starlene Hamilton has a decorated past," Boonsboro High Principal Peggy Pugh said. "Generally, we have someone coming from the outside, but the kids can relate to (Hamilton), they can understand her, they respect her, and they view her as one of us."

Hamilton, who teaches career research and development at the school, said she retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2003 and began teaching in 2005.

"Going from Marine to teacher was quite a transition," she said. "I'm still in a fight, but now I'm in a fight for education."

But she said that being a Marine and a teacher go well together, because of "the importance of each of them."

"The students are future leaders of our nation," she said. "It's imperative for us to instill good values in them."

In her speech, Hamilton talked about the price that has to be paid for freedom. She also referred to the American flag in first person, talking about what it feels like to have Americans citizens salute it.

In attendance at the program held at the high school were Boonsboro Mayor Charles "Skip" Kauffman; Melvin Smullen, commander of the Maryland American Legion; and Dave Ambrose, treasurer of Clopper-Michael Post 10.

Kauffman said that he attends the Veterans Day program at the high school every year that he can.

"Back in the late 1960s, when I was a student at the school, the American Legion was still doing this event," he said. "They've been doing it for as long as I can remember."

Kauffman said that he was impressed by the respect the students showed for the veterans in attendance, which he said is also a reflection of the town.

"The town of Boonsboro is very civic-minded," he said. "They certainly understand what it means for all the sacrifices veterans have made on our behalf."

Sydney Parks, a senior and the school's student council president, led the students in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before the program began. That was followed with the "Star-Spangled Banner" sung by Sarah Ballow, Ambrose's opening remarks and her introduction of Hamilton.

The school's Warrior Band and chorus played and sang patriotic music throughout the program as veterans in attendance were honored by the students.

Parks said the program has helped her understand the importance of supporting veterans each year she has attended it.

"I think through this program the students can understand the concept of what it means to be a veteran," Parks said. "This assembly happens every year, and it's just great to see everyone come together and support all the veterans wearing blue, white and red."

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