TICONDEROGA -The life of a soldier is never easy, even on good days.
A group of Ticonderoga Elementary School students learned that lesson from men who know - veterans - just in time for Memorial Day.
About 50 fifth graders spent May 18 at the Ticonderoga Veterans of Foreign Wars Post learning about World War II and military service from Tom Provoncha, a Vietnam veteran, and Bernard Meagher, a Korean veteran.
"I hope they got an idea what it's like to be a soldier," Provoncha said of the students. "They seemed intensely interested; they were good kids. I hope they have a greater respect for soldiers and the military now."
Students spent about four hours watching actual war footage and getting a history lesson from the local veterans.
Perhaps the most popular aspect was the final hour when Provoncha showed and explained his vast collection of military memorabilia - everything from helmets and canteens to boots and uniforms to rifles and shells. When Provoncha was done, students were invited to handle the artifacts. Some even tried on helmets and carried rifles.
The visit to the VFW was organized by Keith Barber, a retired Ti teacher and a member of the Sons of the American Legion. A history enthusiast, Barber visits the elementary school each year to present programs on Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day and the World War II Pacific Theatre.
"I thought this would be a good year to get the VFW involved and give the kids a treat," Barber said. "It's a rare opportunity for most of these kids to meet men like these."
Barber credited teachers Shelley Young, Kathy Moore and Shannon Huntington for bringing their classes to the VFW. They were accompanied by assistant Pam Thorne and student teacher Ryan Volkmann.
"These are important lessons for children," Barber said. "We enjoy freedom because of men like these."
"We're very fortunate to have Keith (Barber) bring his love of history to our students," Young said. "It's so special for our students to meet these veterans. It's important they (students) learn the reasons why we're the country we are today. I think the kids have enjoyed the day and learned a lot."
It was a special day for student Trevor Parent, whose great-grandfather, Norm Trombley of Ticonderoga, was a prisoner of war during World War II.
Parent brought the letter his family received Nov. 16, 1944, notifying them his great-grandfather was missing in action in France. He also had a certificate issued by the Nazi German government stating Trombley was a POW and a story from the Ti Sentinel on his release April 15, 1945.
Students and veterans expressed thanks for Trombley's service to the nation.
Provoncha appreciated the interest of students and teachers and expressed willingness to speak to other groups.
"I'm happy to do it," he said. "I think it's important to give people a taste of what it's like to be soldier. It's the only way people can develop an appreciation for the sacrifices of our military men and women."
Memorial Day observances will be held this weekend in Hague, Crown Point and Ticonderoga.
Hague will mark Memorial Day on Saturday, May 28.
Throughout the day FunFest will be held in the town park. It'll begin at 10 a.m. and feature DJ Steve Pelkey, Silver Bay craft demonstrations, Fort Ticonderoga re-enactors, a Rotary raffle, a Hague Historical Society display, the Adirondack Crafters white elephant sale, demonstrations by the Champlain Valley K-9 Search & Rescue Team, an exhibit by Up Yonda Farm, food concessions and children's games and face painting.
There will be a presentation by All About Critters of Ticonderoga at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., a performance by Sylvia and Her Magic Trunk at 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. and a concert by the Cambridge Band at noon.
The "Memorial Game" will be played all day to raise money in support of the annual observance and Alex's Lemonade Stand, an nationwide campaign, will sell drinks to raise money for children with cancer.
The traditional Memorial Day parade will begin at 2 p.m. at the Hague Community Center on Route 8. It will proceed to the town park.
The parade will feature 90 units, including four marching bands, the Fort Ticonderoga Fife and Drum Corps, floats, clowns and classic cars. Highlighting the parade will be the Marine Corps Leathernecks honor guard and a portable memorial honoring Hague veterans from all wars and local firefighters. As the parade progresses, names of hague veterans will be read aloud.
Dan Belden, retiring town supervisor, will serve as parade grand marshal.
Ray Tolar, a World War II veteran from Ticonderoga, will be the featured speaker at the Memorial Day service to honor veterans will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the town park.
Following Tolar's remarks there will be several dedications, the playing of "Taps," closing prayer and the community will be asked to join in singing "America the Beautiful."
Crown Point will host its 143rd annual Memorial Day observance May 29 and 30, looking back while planning for the future.
The theme for the two-day event is "Remember When," according to Jodi Gibbs of the town Memorial Day committee.
Activities are scheduled to get under way Sunday at 11 a.m. with an ecumenical church service at the band stand in Veterans Park.
At noon the park will open for a day of rides, games and vendors.
Fireworks will conclude the day at dusk at the Crown Point State Historic Site.
Monday - Memorial Day - will begin with the traditional Solemn Tour of Crown Point cemeteries and historic sites.
The tour will begin at Sacred Heart Cemetery at 9 a.m., followed by the Congregational Church at 9:15, the Ironville Cemetery at 9:45, the White Church Cemetery at 10:15, Fairview Cemetery at 10:45, the Putnam Creek Bridge at 11 a.m., Forestdale Cemetery at 11:30 a.m. and the Veterans Monument in the town park at noon.
Crown Point's annual Memorial Day parade will begin at 2 p.m. at Ferry Road and proceed north on Main Street, ending at Veterans Park.
At 3 p.m. there will be band demonstrations and an awards ceremony.
Members of the Ticonderoga Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, the American Legion and Boy Scouts will place flags in community cemeteries Monday, May 30.
They will begin at 8 a.m. at the South Ti Cemetery on the Hague Road.