Veterans reflect, look ahead during Bow High School assembly

  • World War II veteran Roger Paris salutes as Bow High School students sing a medley of military theme songs Friday. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor staff

  • Lt. Brendan Yout, a Bow alumni, Skypes from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with Bow High School students as part of the school's Memorial Day celebration. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • World War II veteran Roger Paris salutes as Bow High School students sing a medley of military theme songs as part of their Memorial Day celebration. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • World War II veteran Roger Paris (left) shakes hands with Bow state representative Bill Kuch during Bow High School's Memorial Day celebration. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • World War II veteran Roger Paris (left) listens while Bow state representative Bill Kuch speaks during Bow High School's Memorial Day celebration. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Lt. Brendan Yout, a Bow alumni, Skypes from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with Bow High School students as part of the school's Memorial Day celebration. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Lt. Brendan Yout, a Bow alumni, Skypes from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with Bow High School students as part of the school's Memorial Day celebration. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Lt. Brendan Yout, a Bow alumni, Skypes from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with Bow High School students as part of the school's Memorial Day celebration. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Lt. Brendan Yout, a Bow alumni, Skypes from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with Bow High School students as part of the school's Memorial Day celebration. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/26/2017 11:24:57 PM

As the opening bars to “Taps” resounded through the Bow High School auditorium, a pained look crossed World War II veteran Roger Paris’s face.

Paris, who lives at the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton, relies on a walker to move around. Still, as the iconic trumpets played on, Paris got to his feet, as did others gathered in the auditorium. And with rapidly-blinking eyes and quivering lips, Paris brought his right hand to his temple in a salute.

The 97-year-old Manchester man has forgotten some things in his lifetime, but he said his seven years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps has never left him. Neither has the significance of Memorial Day and its importance to veterans and their families to hold celebrations like the one BHS held Friday morning.

For Paris, along with two other New Hampshire residents who participated in the hour-long assembly, the significance was particularly close to home. Though they were separated by age and blood, they were united in one key way: each personally knew the dangers and sacrifices related to serving their country.

Commended for his service

Paris’s decision to enroll in the Marines was fueled by a desire to escape his hometown.

He told students that he was one of six in his family when he graduated from Manchester Central High School. At 17, with the Depression in full swing, Paris said he needed to find work, and knew the military offered three square meals a day. When he and his buddy came across a former Boy Scouts troop leader who had enlisted, they were sold.

That decision took Paris from Australia to Puerto Rico to Canada and Cuba, where he was training when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. He has a blood connection to the fateful day – his wife’s brother was serving on the USS Arizona when it sunk. They never had the chance to meet, he said.

Paris’s service is certainly not forgotten in New Hampshire. Bow state rep. Bill Kuch, a Navy veteran, was tasked with reading a proclamation from Gov. Chris Sununu, where he commended Paris for his service.

“You stand as a strong example of the bravery exemplified by our nation’s greatest generations,” Kuck read.

But on Friday, Paris wasn’t thinking about his generation; instead, he was looking out into the crowd of students, many the same age he was when he enlisted.

“I’m very proud to be here today,” he said. “As I look around, I see students who are going to be leading this country in a few years. Instead of going on for sports, some of you should go into politics.”

That last comment drew laughs from the audience, but Paris’s solemn face never wavered. “We need you,” he said, “and I see quite a few of you out there who could do it. The military could use a few of you too.”

Worthwhile wake-up call

When it was Lt. Brendan Yout’s turn to speak to students, he had to do so over Skype on a projection screen, and at 3 a.m., Hawaii time.

But the 1999 Bow alum and Navy veteran didn’t seem too bothered by the wake-up. “Being a part of Memorial Day and Veterans Day is something I hold very close to my heart,” he said. “I’ve lost friends overseas, and all of them were uncles, dads and brothers. Being here means the world to me.”

Yout joined the Navy after Sept. 11, which he said made a big impression on him. “I wanted to give back,” he told students.

Since then, Yout has given back multiple times. He’s served twice in Afghanistan, once in Iraq and once in the United Arab Emirates. A few years ago, he requested to be stationed at Pearl Harbor, and he now lives on the Island of Oahu with his wife and two children.

His role as an expert on disarming explosives has put him in some tough spots, but Yout said his role is all about building positive relationships and protecting those who are less fortunate. “That’s something you set your honor on,” he said. “When you’re killing IEDs (improvised explosive devices), that’s what you’re doing; you’re getting rid of them so that other people don’t have to face those dangers.”

Close to the topic

Bow High sophomore Lexie Dimond was just a child when she lost her father.

Army Cpl. Scott Dimond was serving in Kandahr, Afghanistan when his vehicle struck an IED and his patrol unit was engaged in a small arms fire attack. At the time, the Dimond family was living in Franklin, and his death struck a chord in the community. A memorial service at the Franklin Middle School gym brought hundreds of people together to pay respects, the line stretching down the hallways and along the side of the building.

Dimond said few people at Bow knew about her father’s death, and that she wasn’t upset when he was mentioned before Dimond led the school in the Pledge of Allegiance. In fact, she said the ceremony made her happy.

“I just don’t have the words for it,” she said. “I’m definitely close to the topic.”

Dimond said the assembly may have made students more aware of what veterans’ families go through. Her friends certainly seemed supportive – as the assembly let out, several students approached Dimond and offered hugs and condolences.

“I think people understand it a lot more than before,” she said. “I think they were pretty respectful.”




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