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Veterans Day assembly at Hamlin Middle School showcases recognition, respect and remembrance

 

It was an emotional morning at Hamlin Middle School Wednesday as veterans and their loved ones, Springfield district staff, local politicians and 700-plus middle school students gathered in the school gym to celebrate Veterans Day.

The gathering was one of recognition, respect and remembrance of all of the veterans who have served the United States, and who continue to do so. A number of the veterans in attendance wore their military uniforms, while others came dressed in plainclothes.

Local and state leaders were also in attendance, including Congressman Peter DeFazio, Senator James Manning, Mayor Christine Lundberg and State Representative Marty Wilde, and Yvonne Fassold, a Eugene resident and former national president of the American Rosie the Riveter Association, among others.

DeFazio was one of the first speakers. He offered appreciation for having a Veterans Day assembly at a middle school, and then touched on the important role that the US military has played in solidifying the freedoms of the American people – mostly on a volunteer basis. 

“Public education is the foundation of American democracy,” he said.

The Hamlin Middle School Band, as well as members from the school choir,  gave captivating performances which brought some veterans to tears. A series of short videos were also sprinkled throughout the about 90-minute assembly, which also prompted some emotion.

Harold Korop, 72, was one of the veterans brought to tears by the different speeches, presentations, songs and a POW/MIA Table remembrance ceremony.  

“I’m just an emotional guy,” Korop said. “But really what got me was the talk about sacrifice and giving up precious time at home.”

Korop, who attended Hamlin Middle School as a child and ultimately graduated from the Springfield School District, was drafted to the Vietnam War as a 20-year-old. After two years, he was released and was awarded a Purple Heart for his service after being injured.

“It was hard to see some of the things we did, and I know it was too much for some people to handle,” Korop said. 

Korop, who still lives in Springfield, said that it was nice to still be included in the school community.

Students also found the community connections to be powerful.

“I think it’s really cool how everyone came together to honor those who have served and died, as well as those who continue to serve,” said eighth-grade student Owen Fuller.

Students at Hamlin have been learning about Veterans Day for the past couple of weeks, including about why the day takes place on Nov. 11, what the significance of a poppy flower is and how women stepped up to be part of the workforce during WWII.

“It was really cool to see that the assembly was emotional for people and that they were touched by some of the presentations,” said London Pendleton, an eighth-grader at Hamlin.