LUDLOW — Black River High School’s final year saw Gov. Phil Scott attend its annual Veterans Day assembly on Friday.
Scott called particular attention to World War II veterans and veterans of the Korean War, many of whom are well into their golden years.
“As we celebrate Veterans Day this year, I would like to pay a little extra attention to the members of the Greatest Generation, those who served in World War II and Korea,” said Scott. “Unfortunately, there aren’t many of them left with us, which makes it more important than ever to express our appreciation for the contributions to our country and the entire world, and to listen to their stories.”
Scott, a Republican, said last week he met Sidney Walton, a 100-year-old Army veteran born in Manhattan who served in World War II.
“He said his biggest regret is not having enough time to meet with Civil War veterans when he was younger, even though he had the opportunity to do so,” Scott said. “So he travels around the country giving young Americans the chance to meet a World War II vet before it’s too late to draw attention to the contribution these vets made to our country. His goal is to visit all 50 states and meet their governors as well. I was the 24th governor he met. It was a special day for me.”
Scott said his affinity for World War II veterans stems from his father, who participated in the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion that turned the tide of the war in favor of the Allies. Scott said his father was a tank operator in the Third Army under General George Patton.
“Shortly after the battle, when they were going to Saint-Lô, France, to free Saint-Lô, he was severely injured when he hit a landmine,” said Scott. “He lost both his legs as a result, he spent two years recovering in Walter Reed Hospital before coming home, where he met my mom and they had three boys. Unfortunately, he died as a result of his injuries when I was 11.”
He said his father never complained about what happened to him, was a fiercely independent man and deeply patriotic, “so I will always appreciate and take the time to acknowledge the risk veterans take to keep us safe,” Scott said.
He urged people not to wait until Veterans Day to thank a veteran for their service.
The school’s Veterans Day assembly is a seven-year tradition started by Andrea Sanford, of Ludlow, according to Ned Bowen, Color Guard commander for American Legion Post 36, who thanked her after a speech in which he honored those veterans missing in action or held as prisoners of war.
“I have one other person I need, without a doubt, to recognize,” he said. “Seven-plus years ago she went to the School Board and asked why Veterans Day was an in-service day and not a veterans day. She then contacted me, and we went to the principal, and she started this program and has continued it every year.”
Sanford said it takes several months to plan and rehearse the assembly, which sees children from multiple grades sing or give speeches.