Upper School assembly marks Veterans Day

The Thayer Academy Upper School held its traditional Veterans Day assembly Nov. 9 to observe the holiday and recognize all American veterans who served their nation honorably during war or peacetime. 

“Thayer Academy was founded by a veteran, so I’m sure he would approve (of the assembly),” said Upper School Science Faculty Jim MacVarish P ‘11, a 25-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps who retired in 2008 with the rank of colonel, offering a respectful nod to General Sylvanus Thayer, “the Father of West Point.” 

MacVarish discussed the history of the holiday, from its roots as Armistice Day — a day specifically commemorating the sacrifice of World War I veterans and the end of hostilities in “The Great War” — through its evolution to 1954, the year then President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill creating the holiday we know today. 

MacVarish made a clear distinction between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, telling his audience that while both holidays honor those in uniform, Memorial Day is reserved to specifically remember those who died in service to their country. 

To conclude his presentation, MacVarish presented his “Wall of Fame” where he made mention of the roughly two dozen Thayer students who have served in the armed services since he first arrived at Thayer in 1999. He even added two “honorable mention” candidates currently undergoing training. 

And one of those “Wall of Fame” students was easier for the science teacher to remember: his daughter, Marine Corps Captain Katherine M. MacVarish ‘11, who was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 2015 after graduating from the United States Naval Academy. 

“That’s it, kids,” MacVarish told his audience of students, faculty, and staff. “Enjoy your holiday on Veterans Day, and don’t forget to thank a vet.” 

Thayer Academy 2021 Veterans Day

Upper School Science Faculty Jim MacVarish P ‘11 served 25 years in the United States Marine Corps, retiring in 2008 with the rank of colonel. Behind him is a photo of his late father, Staff Sergeant John D. MacVarish, who served in the Marine Corps from 1943 until 1946 and fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima. MacVarish also has a daughter, Marine Corps Captain Katherine M. MacVarish ‘11.


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