Hopkins Faculty Present a Moving Tribute to Veterans
She is known to students as Ms. Lane, science teacher. Today she was Senior Airman Jennifer Lane, veteran of the United States Air Force.
Breaking with the recent tradition of inviting alumni/ae who have served in the military back for Veteran’s Day Assembly, Jennifer Lane of the Hopkins science faculty provided the first-hand witness account of the veteran experience for students today. With her two daughters in attendance, Lane spoke of her decision to join the Air Force and the journey that shaped her life.
“The military was what I needed at that point in my life,” said Lane. She saw military service as an opportunity to change her environment and to develop personal and professional skills. While most of Lane’s four-year deployment was stateside, she spent one year at the de-militarized zone (DMZ) in South Korea. It was in South Korea where she came up against many difficult challenges. “Being a woman in 1996 and embedded in an infantry unit was not easy,” she recalled. But Lane considers herself one of the lucky ones. She never had to fire her rifle. “I got off easy.”
Senior Airman Lane earned her BS in Biology and Forensics at the University of New Haven on the GI Bill and her MS in Biology Education at Central Connecticut University with partial support from the State of Connecticut for her stateside service during Operation Desert Shield.
Acknowledging that military service is not for everyone, Lane encouraged students to “look for opportunities to serve where you are part of something much larger than yourself.”
The assembly was carefully crafted and presented students with a historical and cultural context for Veteran’s Day and a glimpse into the lives of veterans throughout the ages.
History teacher Sarah Belbita recounted the genesis of Veterans Day which began as Armistice Day, a celebration of the end of World War I--a war which was supposed to be the war to end all wars. In 1954 the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all who have served in the armed forces.
English teacher Alex Werrell spoke of Veterans Day as “not a celebration of military might or of wars won and lost” but rather a tribute to individual lives. To capture what he called “the particularity of common lives,” Werrell read letters from soldiers from the Civil War. One letter was dictated to a male nurse whose signature was Walt Whitman. But the most moving letter contained no words at all. It was a piece of paper with a drawing of the outline of tiny hand, sent by a soldier’s wife, introducing the father to his newborn baby.
Building on the theme of “the particularity of common lives,” faculty and students performed “Tenting Tonight,” a melancholy ballad of war’s loss and sorrow. Written by Walter Kittredge in 1863, the song became popular with soldiers and civilians as the Civil War dragged on. Recognizing its anti-war sentiments, Pete Seeger and others revived the song during the 1960’s. (Click here for the lyrics)
Brooke Lane ’21, shared the evolution of the military tradition of playing “Taps” to honor veterans and the fallen as everyone in the gymnasium rose for a moment of silence. From the back of the room came the haunting 24-note melody of "Taps," composed in 1862 by David Butterfield, and played by Alex Weisman '20.
Thank you to singers Julia Rowny, Thom Peters, Nathaniel Peters, Erika Schroth, Katie Broun ’19, Sophia Colodner '19, Sarah Belbita and musicians Ian Guthrie, banjo, Ian Melchinger, guitar, and Robert Smith, violin, for their performance of “Tenting Tonight.”