SPARTA, NJ – The students and staff at Helen Morgan school held a Memorial Day program to reinforce the meaning of the day.

Principal Doug Layman opened the program talking to the students about the importance of remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country.  Layman shared how moved he was when visiting the monuments in Washington DC, explaining they will have the same opportunity on their eight grade trip.

Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert Smith, retired, spoke to the students about his experiences in the Air Force.  He shared photos of the planes he worked on during his career. 

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Martin Gozdenovich told of his experiences as an MP in the Army.  He spoke of making friends who became his “brothers,” at the time.

The students from the fifth grade band chorus and orchestra performed for the program. The chorus sang the “Star Spangled Banner.” The orchestra performed “This Land is Your Land.” The band played “America, the Beautiful” and “Taps.”

Additionally there was a drum roll as the flag was first brought into the assembly, Curtis said. 

The 23 students in fourth and fifth grade scouts and the Kindness Ambassadors Scouts led the assembly in the pledge of allegiance, according to organizers Pat Curtis and Stephanie Bernardo.

“As many of our speakers noted, while we celebrate Memorial Day with parades and picnics, we want to remember the true meaning of this day,” Curtis said.

Several other active duty and retired service men were also a part of the day’s events, including:

  • Ralph Dengler, Marine Corps Infantry Officer retired,
  • Susan Foy, Air Force retired
  • Corporal Robert Ferrigno served in the Marine Corps,
  • John Graniello currently serving in the Maryland National Guard,
  • Army Staff Sergeant Jim Naisby, retired,
  • Dr. Barton Schneyer, served as a doctor in the Air Force.

The drum roll was repeated as the students left the assembly in silence, “in honor of those who gave their lives for our freedom,” Curtis said.