Memorial Day Ceremony Teaches Sullivan Students About Sacrifice
|Col. Michael Morgan gives a talk titled 'Sacrifice' to the children of Sullivan Elementary School in North Adams on Friday.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The honor code of the Navy Seals includes the line "I am never out of the fight."
This was especially true in the case of the four Navy Seals who inspired the book and movie "Lone Survivor."
On Friday, the students of Sullivan Elementary School heard the story behind these four men from Col. Michael Morgan during the school's annual "Celebration of Remembrance" in honor of Memorial Day.
Morgan, who is with the 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard, recounted the story of Marcus Luttrell, who with his team set out on a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah in the summer of 2005. The mission, however, went horribly wrong, and the three men with Luttrell perished.
But not before they fought with all of their might to get help and try to save the others.
"It was pretty horrific what they endured," Morgan told the students, recounting how one of the Seals, Michael P. "Murph" Murphy, had been gravely injured but managed to fire some rounds back at the enemy.
"He was hitting them, too, still not out of the fight," he said.
Murphy also managed to dig out his cell phone to call for help.
"He made the call. He made the connection," Morgan said. "When they shot him, he kept talking."
In the end, only Luttrell made it out of those rugged Afghanistan mountains alive, but the four men embodied that Seals honor code.
"They fought valiantly and were never out of the fight," Morgan said, adding that Murphy had posthumously received the military's highest honor, the Medal of Honor, for this actions that June day. "You don't need to look beyond those men to find a hero."
Those heroes embodied the word "sacrifice," which was the title of Morgan's talk.
"Always, capital letters, remember them," he said in conclusion. "This day is about those who didn't make it home."
Indeed, one of the first children to speak at Friday's service — Anna Saldo-Burke's third-grade class produces the ceremony — reminded the school that this holiday is about the men and women who were killed fighting for the country.
"Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day," said Isabelle McCallister, who was followed by her classmates in introducing the guest speakers — which in addition to Morgan included Mayor Richard Alcombright and state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi. The third-graders also introduced a group of younger students who sang "Where There is Love Let There Be Peace" and then the sixth- and seventh-graders, who sang the Dixie Chicks' "Traveling Soldier."
Alcombright shared with the students how he felt when preparing for his appearance at Friday's ceremony.
"I'm always overcome by very powerful emotions I feel at no other time of the year," he said, explaining he had been pondering how lucky we are in this country to have freedom, something not everyone has. And that is directly because of the men and woman of the military who fight — and sometimes die — for America.
The mayor said he often hears the phrase "let us never forget" in reference of fallen members of the military, but he sees that as a negative way to frame the sentiment. Instead, he likes to turn it around to something more positive.
"Let us always remember," he said.
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