Veterans Day Program
The Veterans Day Program has been a beloved tradition at Douglas since 1997; it provides the entire school community with a sense of pride and understanding of what our veterans have done for us. The program is unique in that students across all grades prepare and present the program.
Many students invite veterans they know to attend the program. These students sit with their veteran guests and introduce them during the assembly. After the program, the veterans often visit their hosts’ classrooms to share their experiences and answer questions.
The program, presented by the fifth grade, features patriotic songs and readings of original poems, under the direction of music teacher Peter Broggi. There is also a color guard ceremony by the fifth grade Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. Sixth grade volunteers greet the veterans. Various classes across grades create unique patriotic gifts, including bookmarks and thank you cards, to include in gift bags for our veteran visitors.
Every year the program features a guest speaker.
- In 2016, John Ahlbeck was the Veteran's Day Guest Speaker. John emigrated from Finland to New York City in 1947 when he was 13 years old. He attended Benjamin Franklin High School in Harlem, where he was the valedictorian of his class. He went on to attend the City College of New York. At first he went full time, but did not have the money to continue, so he worked during the day and went to college at night. In 1957 he was drafted in the United States Army. He served as a supply clerk in Stuttgart, Germany. After his service he went into the reserves for four more years. He returned to college, finishing his degree in 1961. He then became a certified public accountant, and he is still working today. He is the grandfather of Oscar Maxwell and Douglas alumni Summer and Charlie Maxwell. Mr. Ahlbeck told us that he and all others who serve do so to protect our freedoms as laid out in the Constitution.
In 2015, Gary Sullivan, a third-generation veteran of the armed services, and father of Douglas students Mia, Tyler, and (Douglas Alum Delaney Sullivan), shared some of his experiences as a former US Naval Officer. Gary attended the US Naval Academy, and spent seven years on active duty. During his time in the armed services, Gary served on a fast frigate and guided missile destroyer. Gary then became an instructor at the academy. During the term of his service, Gary was awarded the title of US Navy Athlete of the Year.
In 2014, Donald Lang, grandfather to incoming sixth grader, Sarah Hennessey, grandfather to Douglas Alum John Hennessey, (and father to first grade assistant Jen Hennessey), shared his experiences as an officer in the United States Navy. Mr. Lang began his career at the Naval Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Newport, Rhode Island in 1962. Upon completion of OCS, Mr. Lang was assigned to the USS Black, a destroyer out of San Diego, California. During the term of his service, Mr. Lang was witness to the start of the Vietnam War, during which time, his ship was active to two deployments in the Far East.
- In 2013, Doug Taylor, a former US Naval Officer who served during the Gulf War, was the keynote speaker. Doug regaled us with stories of jumping from helicopters as part of his duties as a search and rescue swimmer. Doug is pictured with his two children, Zach and Abby, both of whom are students at Douglas School.
In early November the walls are decorated with patriotic artwork created by students and annotated photos of veterans within the Douglas community. Due to space constraints, the Veterans Day Program is limited to only veterans and their guests.
To submit pictures and/or information about a student's relative who is a veteran (to be posted in the lobby), or to RSVP for a veteran guest (for the program), download the form for details. Photos, index cards, and RSVPs are due by Thursday, October 26.