Service at Memorial Tower Commemorates Phillips Academy’s Military Tradition on Veterans Day

Although this year’s Veterans’ Day, which marks the armistice ending World War I, fell on the same day as the annual Andover-Exeter competition, students and their families, faculty, graduates, and townspeople took fifteen minutes out of their Saturday morning to commemorate those in service and those who died in service for the United States. The service was held at Memorial Place at 11:00 a.m., the customary time of commemoration, beneath the recently completed and refurbished Memorial Bell Tower. As Reverend Michael Ebner is accompanying Head of School Barbara Chase in Asia, Associate Protestant Chaplain Toni DiPina and Roman Catholic Chaplain Dr. Ted Kepes led the service together. First, Dr. Kepes commenced with the opening address. After, Chaplain Toni DiPina rose to say a few words, before Ms. Sykes took the stand. The service was comprised of prayer, reflection, and music. The Chaplains asked for a moment of silence, and the crowd lapsed into reflective thought. John Heroy ’08 was asked to play the bagpipes for the service. He said, “We have a duty to hold a memorial service especially since we have so many graduates in the military service. It’s not just about honoring them though it’s about honoring the whole town.” Fidelio, Andover’s elite a capella group, performed the classic patriotic song, “America.” Olivia Pei ’07, who performed with Fidelio, said “Even if I [weren’t] performing, I would have gone. It’s a really nice memorial service and it really makes you think. It takes you out of the hectic life of Andover and for fifteen minutes you just have to think about the veterans and your own life and how lucky you are to live your life.” Students who attended also felt deep reverence for the lives the service honored. Cassius Clay ’09 said, “Given the fact that Andover has such a long history of remembering the war veterans, I feel that it is very important to take time to honor them even on Andover-Exeter weekend. It is important to remember them even years after the Korean War and Vietnam War [have ended].” Elizabeth Brown ’09 chose to go because she felt obligated to honor veterans. “A lot of people argue that it was a Republican holiday, which is absurd. I think it represents the patriotism of our country.” Seth Bardo, Instructor in English, said,“I do attend this service every year [but] strongly believe that Andover and all American businesses as well as public institutions should honor our veterans in much more visible ways.” Others were unable to describe exactly the emotion the service evoked. “I don’t know if I would consider it emotion but I definitely felt respect for the ones that served in the military service. Yes, I guess it did evoke a sort of emotion…like esteem,” said Heroy. Members of the Kristensen family were also in attendance. The event marked the one-year anniversary of the inscribing of the name of Erik Kristensen ’91 on Memorial Place. Ms. Sykes explained, “One year ago, the family of Erik Kristensen ‘’91 were with us as we unveiled the inscription of his name on Memorial Place. His mother called us last week to extend regrets that she could not be with us this year. She noted the compassion and sense of welcome at the 2005 service and the luncheon that followed. We all join her in hoping that Erik remains the only Phillips Academy graduate to fall in the current conflict.”