Lake Forest Country Day School (LFCDS) students recently honored local Armed Forces veterans at the School’s annual Veterans Day assembly on Wednesday, November 7. Students in grades one through eight expressed gratitude and appreciation to the assembled veterans through a moving combination of musical performances and short speeches.
The morning’s ceremony began with a processional by the Lake Forest American Legion Post 264 Color Guard. A group of Cub and Boy scouts comprised of LFCDS students joined the procession and also led the Pledge of Allegiance. A trumpet performance of the famous musical piece, Taps, was performed by eighth-grade students Mariah Goeks and Mason Schilling. Fellow eighth-grade students Erisa Farimani, Libby Thompson, Riley Harwood, Hampden Keil, and Tyler Grumhaus spoke about their recent experiences visiting the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, the Holocaust Museum, and the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial as part of their annual trip to Washington D.C. in September. During their time in Washington D.C., the students had the opportunity to encounter a number of veterans. Farimani was especially touched by seeing the veterans at the Navy Memorial, saying, “We met many veterans from Illinois who fought in World War II, and we were able to shake their hands and thank them for their bravery and service in protecting our country. The veterans were so happy to see us and hear that the next generation of our country is in great hands.
Libby Thompson added, “Meeting these veterans had a phenomenal impact on me and my peers. One veteran in particular stood out to me. With sparkle in his eyes, he gave me a blessing—he was so pleased to see me and my fellow classmates appreciate everything he and the veterans had done for the freedom of our country.”
After the students spoke, Tom Marks, Commander of the Lake Forest American Legion Post 264, read the Roll Call of the veterans present for the ceremony, including the branch of the Armed Forces they served for and the wars/conflicts they served in. Twenty-eight veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces stood for a round of applause. The veterans present at the assembly served in World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan, with one veteran having completed a tour of duty in three wars–WWII, Vietnam, and Korea.
The assembly’s guest of honor was Capt. Stanton Cope, whose children Kemmer (’09) and Stanton (’11) are both LFCDS alumni. Capt. Cope served in the Department of Defense for over 23 years, four of them as the self-titled “Head Bug Guy,” protecting deployed military personnel from diseases spread by insects. During his tenure with the DOD, Capt. Cope performed research and insect control for troops in 18 countries, authored or co-authored 80 scientific and technical publications, and was awarded 24 ribbons and medals, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, the sixth-highest medal in the Department of Defense. In light of these tremendous accomplishments, Capt. Cope says his proudest moments in the service have been when he has been able to serve as a mentor and a “career consultant” to numerous junior officers in all branches of the Armed Forces. His message to LFCDS students focused on “serving those who serve,” meaning that one can serve the military and not necessarily be a "warfighter." At the end of Capt. Cope’s speech, he led the students in a salute to the veterans present.
Several musical numbers were performed by the students to commemorate the veterans and their service. The third-grade class led the audience in singing The Star Spangled Banner and the fourth-grade class followed with the lively Fifty Nifty United States. Chair of the Fine Arts Department and Lower School music teacher Scott Baeseman explained that the students learn these songs as part of a patriotic unit in music class, and therefore know the importance of the songs, including the words and their historical meaning and context. The assembly closed with all of the Lower and Upper School students singing an especially moving rendition of Thank You, Soldiers to the veterans in attendance.
LFCDS is committed to cultivating responsible citizens and students of character and does so by offering many chances to connect with and give back to members of our local communities, including events like the annual Veterans Day Assembly. The school serves the Lake Forest community as well as thirty-eight surrounding communities and is a regional center of excellence for early childhood, elementary, and middle school education for children ages two through eighth grade. For more information about LFCDS, please visit www.lfcds.org or call 847-615-6151.