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With Gratitude

11/28/2012

“With gratitude for their sacrifice.”

That’s what the inscription on the latest addition to the Ashburn Chapel reads.

The expression of thanks stands above the latest names to be added to the Brooks School honor roll of those Brooks alumni who have died during their military service.

A third plaque will soon be added to the two existing, which hang on the back walls of the chapel. Those first two plaques list Brooks alums who died in conflicts prior to and including World War II. The newest plaque features three names of men who have died in service since, place where they were serving at their time of death, and the year they died: William Stewart Barr ’57, Colombia, 1965; George Whitney Carpenter ’64, Vietnam, 1967 and Peter Thomas Nicholson ’79, San Diego, Calif., 2004.

School Minister Rev. Bob Flanagan ’81 said it was something that happened at Alumni Weekend every June that moved him to want to add the names.

“There are alums who come every year, and turn around to the back of the chapel, and salute those folks,” he said, motioning to the original two plaques. “Seeing that over the last few years, I knew this was something the school should do.”

Flanagan commissioned Arthur Swanson of York, Maine, to create the third plaque as a replica of the first two. And Swanson took his job seriously; he extracted a sample out of one of the old panels and sent it to a lab at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst to find out what kind of wood it was. When the lab couldn’t identify it, an old friend of Swansons helped out, eventually identifying it as monkey pod from Hawaii.

The panel features intricate woodwork. It’s a solid piece of wood, which meant Swanson had to spend “hours and hours” with a router, creating the relief work that would eventually be the names and flowers that adorn the plaque. Swanson did the delicate scroll of flowers and greenery at the top of the panel by hand.

“It was a fun project. I like being able to help with the continuance of these types of things” Swanson said when he visited the Chapel to show Flanagan his handiwork.

The panel will go back to Swanson’s workshop for a bit so he can adjust the nailholes in the back, and then it will be hung in the chapel.

Swanson’s visit tied with what Flanagan had spoken of just minutes before in chapel: the idea of sacrifice, helping others, and leadership.

He said he was inspired by hearing guest speaker Eric Greitens — humanitarian, former Navy SEAL and author — talk about how he made it through the brutal Navy training by thinking of his group, and not just himself. He was also inspired by Dean of Faculty John Haile, who talked about his son, David, and how he, too, endured military training by focusing on his fellow trainees and not just himself.

“The team’s ability to succeed is more important than individual successes,” Flanagan said.

The Greatest Sacrifice
The names of Barr, Carpenter and Nicholson join a list of other Brooks alumni who died in battle, and whose names adorn the walls of the Ashburn Chapel:

Thomas Perkins Brooks Jr. ’41, died 1944
Stephen Metcalf Danforth ’39, died 1943
William Ward Frick, II ’42, died 1943
Fletcher Ladd Gill Jr. ’42, died 1944
Lawrence Cushing Goodhue, Jr. ’42, died 1946
Robert Ross Hotz ’41, died 1944
David Lapsley ’38, died 1944
Oliver Ames Parker ’39, died 1943
James Neale Thorne ’38, died 1944
Richard Mortimer Tuckerman ’40, died 1946
Peter Van Pelt ’36, died 1944
DeForest Van Slyck, Jr. ’39, died 1944