ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Students look on as U.S. Navy veteran John Klecker tells them about the importance of Memorial Day.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
SAUGUS — Students at the Waybright Elementary School honored fallen heroes by creating their own Memorial Day program Friday morning.
Each grade chose their own way to honor the veterans. Kindergartners created large poppies out of red construction paper and gold glitter and recited a poem; the first-grade class put together a medley of patriotic songs, singing “Yankee Doodle” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
Children in the fourth-grade class boastfully recited a poem they wrote themselves.
“We are proud Americans,” they said. “We are thankful for those that keep us safe. Those that are gone are never forgotten. We are the home of the free because of the brave. We are the USA.”
Steve Castinetti, retired naval officer and commander of the Saugus Veterans Council, explained the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day to the children, reminding them that this weekend, they should be remembering those killed during a war and those who died from injuries received during a war. In November, we will remember all veterans, he said.
“Today, we want to remember those soldiers, sailors and Marines who died protecting us,” Castinetti said. “Saugus has lost several people over the years.”
Castinetti told the students that Kasabuski Arena, where many of them like to skate, was named after two brothers who were killed just 12 months apart. Brothers John and Walter Kasabuski served in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.
Reminding the students that the ceremony was a somber event, Principal Kelly Moss commended the youngsters for their hard work in putting it together.
The event was just the start of the weekend’s ceremonies to commemorate the holiday.
The town’s annual Memorial Day Parade, hosted by the Saugus Veterans Council, will step off on Jackson Street at 9:30 a.m. today. This year’s ceremony will honor the town’s Purple Heart recipients, who will serve as grand marshals of the parade.
Vets and residents will march through town to the veterans section of Riverside Ceremony at about 9:45 a.m., where participants will man each grave marker and salute the heroes. Parade-goers will observe a 21-gun salute.
At 10:30 a.m., the crowd will travel to Saugus Town Hall, where ceremonies will continue and military vehicles will be parked for viewing.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.