By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Pinkerton Academy unveiled a monument Saturday to honor its own.
A new alumni veteran monument and flagpole took center stage in a brief ceremony led by students in Pinkerton’s JROTC program.
The monument stands on the Academy’s lower campus in a memorial garden area, part of a two-year project also supported by the school’s Alumni Association, the Class of 1956, and local veterans organizations.
Flags were raised on the new pole to honor all alumni who served in the military, including Class of 2007 graduate 1st Lt. Paul DeMeo, who died last week while stationed with the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, N.C.
He was remembered for being one of Pinkerton’s finest.
“It’s just a tragic loss,” Pinkerton JROTC’s Chief Charles Porter said. “A loss for the Army and for us.”
Pinkerton Academy has a strong tradition of honoring its alumni and those who served in the military.
The school is steeped in tradition, paying homage to first American in space and Navy veteran Alan B. Shepard Jr., a member of the Class of 1940. Buildings are named in Shepard’s honor.
The school’s JROTC classroom is also named in memory of Maj. Albert L. Page, Class of 1953, listed as missing after being shot down while on a strike mission over North Vietnam in 1967. He was never found and was declared dead in 1974.
In December 2010, students and staff saluted a hearse carrying 20-year-old Marine Michael Geary as it passed in front of Pinkerton’s historic clock tower. Geary was a member of the Class of 2009 and was killed while serving in Afghanistan.
DeMeo now takes his place among the honored at the school. He served as his JROTC class group commander and earned many leadership honors and awards.
“He was very much a leader, he loved this program,” Porter said.
Porter said it was fitting to include Demeo during the monument dedication.
“He was a very dedicated student,” Porter said. “This is a big loss.”
Pinkerton’s new veterans monument is surrounded by other memorial benches and walkway pavers paying tribute to notable alumni and other school supporters.