Frontier students meet local veterans while placing flags for fallen heroes

Frontier Regional School’s National Honor Society students spent Wednesday morning flagging veterans’ graves in Brookside Cemetery in South Deerfield.

Frontier Regional School’s National Honor Society students spent Wednesday morning flagging veterans’ graves in Brookside Cemetery in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Frontier Regional School’s National Honor Society students spent Wednesday morning flagging veterans’ graves in local cemeteries. Olivia Machon and Ashley Taylor are accompanied by Vietnam veteran Matthew Jakutowicz of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3295 as they honor veterans buried in Brookside Cemetery in South Deerfield.

Frontier Regional School’s National Honor Society students spent Wednesday morning flagging veterans’ graves in local cemeteries. Olivia Machon and Ashley Taylor are accompanied by Vietnam veteran Matthew Jakutowicz of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3295 as they honor veterans buried in Brookside Cemetery in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Frontier Regional School’s National Honor Society students spent Wednesday morning flagging veterans’ graves in local cemeteries. Owen Babb and T.J. Donovan place U.S. flags at Brookside Cemetery in South Deerfield.

Frontier Regional School’s National Honor Society students spent Wednesday morning flagging veterans’ graves in local cemeteries. Owen Babb and T.J. Donovan place U.S. flags at Brookside Cemetery in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Frontier Regional School’s National Honor Society students spent Wednesday morning flagging veterans’ graves in local cemeteries. Olivia Machon and Ashley Taylor are accompanied by Vietnam veteran Matthew Jakutowicz of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3295 as they honor veterans buried in Brookside Cemetery in South Deerfield.

Frontier Regional School’s National Honor Society students spent Wednesday morning flagging veterans’ graves in local cemeteries. Olivia Machon and Ashley Taylor are accompanied by Vietnam veteran Matthew Jakutowicz of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3295 as they honor veterans buried in Brookside Cemetery in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-24-2024 3:59 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Thanks to a collaboration between Frontier Regional School students and the Hale-Clapp Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3295, veterans’ graves in South Deerfield’s three cemeteries got fresh American flags ahead of Memorial Day.

Frontier’s National Honor Society students joined the VFW at the Brookside, Holy Name of Jesus and Holy Family cemeteries on Wednesday to place new flags on military veterans’ graves as well as to meet some of the four district towns’ living veterans and learn about their experiences.

“It’s nice to get the kids involved,” said Deerfield resident Frank Pydych, who served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1972. “If they don’t do it and we don’t teach it, how are they going to learn? Honor and respect is taught.”

“I love this. … I look forward to this every year,” added Jack Bradley, a fellow Deerfield resident who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1972. “These are all good kids.”

The community event has been a long-running tradition, with the VFW working with the school and the town’s Memorial Day Committee to distribute flags for at least the last dozen years.

Committee member Fred Beckta noted the VFW and students flagged 690 graves Wednesday and there were about 200 more yet to be placed, along with an additional 100 that are expected to be placed by Deerfield Academy seniors at Laurel Hill Cemetery on Thursday, weather permitting.

Beckta said the event provides both a community service and a learning opportunities for the students by allowing them to spruce up the cemeteries while also providing a chance to talk to veterans about their experiences.

“It’s very important that generations know how their freedoms came about,” Beckta said, noting that his own father served in World War II by sneaking into service at the age of 16, which is around the age of the students they worked with on Wednesday.

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While Memorial Day is a day to honor and mourn those who died while serving in the military, Frontier junior Mason Smith said a community event like this is also a happy occasion because it’s a chance to connect two different generations of people.

“We’re celebrating these people,” Smith said of the living veterans and all those who served and died before them. “It feels really great to make a difference in the community.”

The Memorial Day Committee accepts donations from the community to help purchase the American flags that are placed in the cemeteries. Checks may be sent to the Town of Deerfield’s Memorial Day Fund at 8 Conway St., South Deerfield, MA 01373.