At 9:30 on a cloudy Friday morning, the three hundred students of Carrie Ricker Elementary School, Litchfield, gathered in the gymnasium to celebrate the flag of the United States of America. Among the parents and community members who congregated there were close to a dozen veterans who were honored for their service on this 9th Annual celebration at Carrie Ricker. Senator Angus King and a representative for Senator Susan Collins were in attendance as well. The walls were plastered with large, colorful posters bearing messages like, “Best Principal Ever” in farewell to the school’s retiring principal, Christine Lajoie-Cameron.
A procession of first graders was led into the gymnasium by Uncle Sam, a tall star-spangled man in a towering top hat, to the thunderous accompaniment of “The Star Spangled Banner” as the entire assembly clapped in time.
After circling around the gym, the children took a seat and the ceremony began. First graders sang before the school about flag soup, then third graders stood and spoke about the Pledge of Allegiance and its importance, after which all stood to salute the flag for the National Anthem. The second grade performed, and then the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts showed how to properly and respectfully retire a flag. Their troop leader commented that they learn how to handle the flag as part of their organization, and that the young Scouts have looked forward to participating in the ceremony for the last few years.
The winners of the writing competition were then announced. Students in all grade levels had submitted short essays or pieces of poetry, some of which the winners were then selected to read aloud.
Next, the fourth graders recited poetry, and then Senator King spoke at the podium. He told the audience about Andrew J. Tozier, who was born between Monmouth and Litchfield, and was the color-bearer for the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Battle of Gettysburg, where he stood at Little Round Top with the flag under one arm while firing with a borrowed rifle from the other. The Representative for Susan Collins read a letter from the Senator shortly afterward.
The ceremonies concluded with a choral ensemble composed of the student body, featuring a number of patriotic songs. With the impressive turnout to the event, it is almost certain that Carrie Ricker Elementary will host its 10th annual Flag Day celebration this time next year. All community members are encouraged to attend.