Milton Remembers: Veterans Day
by The Milton Measure on Friday, November 16th, 2012
On Wednesday November 7th, Mr. Sherrod “Rod” Skinner, the Director of Milton’s College Counseling Office and a member of the Milton Academy Class of 1972, spoke to the entire Upper School as Milton’s annual Veterans Day Speaker.
The Veterans Day speaker during Wednesday assembly and the moment of silence by the flagpole, occurring last Monday, are two Veterans Day traditions Milton has observed for years. Mr. Bland said, “[they] are… the most important events in the school.” When asked to give his opinion on Mr. Skinner as our speaker, Mr. Bland stated, “[he] is eloquent, has a strong mind and strong heart, and he cares deeply about his family.”
During the assembly, Mr. Skinner shared the story of his father’s twin brother and namesake, Sherrod Emerson Skinner, Jr., Milton Academy Class of 1947. After attending Harvard University, Sherrod E. Skinner became a Marine and subsequently went into active duty in the Korean war. Sacrificing himself to save his comrades, Sherrod was killed when he selflessly threw himself on a grenade thrown into his bunker. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 1952 and was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor by President Truman.
Despite never having met his uncle, Mr. Skinner has been affected by his father’s twin brother in many ways. Not only did Mr. Skinner share his uncle’s name, but he came to understand his uncle’s legacy through his father’s stories. Remembering his father, who recently passed away, and his uncle, Mr. Skinner was choked up as he showed the community the ring that his uncle wore at the time of his death.
Mr. Skinner told us how his father had been devastated by his brother’s loss, becoming a changed man in manner and perception. He explained how he, through stories about his uncle, felt deeply saddened too. Mr. Skinner clearly displayed an appreciative understanding of the broader and more negative effects of war. Mr. Bland told the students in his introduction of Mr. Skinner that “individuals don’t go to war, rather families go to war.”
Because Veteran’s Day is on a Sunday this year, Milton held their annual gathering around the flag on Monday instead. This year’s Veterans Day will be the 93rd day that the United States has honored its veterans.
As the entire school gathered around the flag pole on Monday at 11 am while the flag was lowered and then raised, the school honored the tradition that began in 1918 when the armistice was announced and the Milton community spontaneously gathered in front of the flag to honor the people who fought in the war. “The Flagpole Ceremony is better than the All-School Pep Rally,” says Latin teacher Mrs. Wehle, “because it is a time when the whole school shares silence, something which is rare, yet important.”
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