ENFIELD, Maine — When Jeanne Corriveau and Glenda Crosby started collecting photographs of armed service veterans from students and Enfield Station School staff and put them on a school wall last week, they figured the project would culminate on Veterans Day.
They were wrong.
As of Wednesday, their effort had grown from a handful of pictures to about 100, and residents and community groups with no direct connection to the SAD 31 school, such as local VFW and American Foreign Legion chapters, keep bringing more.
The two education technicians said they had no idea how many more pictures they will get, or how much more wall space they will need. They do know that they have hit a nerve and united the school’s communities — Burlington, Edinburg, Enfield, Howland, Maxfield and Passadumkeag — in a way they never imagined.
“The pictures are still coming in and it’s not like we’ve advertised that we were doing this,” Crosby said Wednesday. “People are just hearing about it and bringing in their pictures. It has just taken off.”
“I don’t take any down or refuse any,” Corriveau said. “I don’t know how I could do that. Every one of them is special.”
Usually of students’ relatives, the pictures are head shots, snapshots and portraits of veterans and are grouped loosely according to era, from World War I to the Iraq War, under the heading “A Symbol of American Pride and Strength.”
Most are captioned with the subjects’ names, dates and branches of service. Photographs of those killed in action are framed with simple black cardboard. Newspaper articles, the U.S. Constitution and the oaths of service are also among the items adorning the wall, which is just beyond the school’s front doors and to the right of the cafeteria entrance.
The display helps students to express pride in their families or communities and to understand patriotism, sacrifice and the gift of service all veterans make to their country, Crosby said.
“It’s a connection for them,” Crosby said. “You can talk in the classrooms about wars, but when they can talk about it at home, when they’re collecting the pictures, it has meaning.”
For 8-year-old Brady Harding of Howland and 11-year-old Samuel Millett of Enfield, the display was a chance to connect with the service of several family members. Brady’s grandfather, Philip Harding of Lowell, served in Vietnam and got a Purple Heart, Brady said.
“He got hurt, and it’s on his picture,” Brady, a third-grader, said. “He was in a tank and it was blown up by a bomb. My grandmother told me about it. I was 6 or 7. She was sort of sad when she said it.”
Samuel’s brother, 19-year-old Andrew Millett, is on the wall. He is a U.S. Marine serving in South Carolina.
“He fixes helicopters and planes,” Samuel said. “He’s only been back [home] twice this year. I miss playing with him. We play soccer on the trampoline.”
Samuel’s father, grandfather and cousin also have pictures on the wall, he said. Ten-year-old Amy Hallett of Howland has her father and her brother on the wall.
Corriveau and Crosby aren’t worried about running out of wall space anytime soon. They already plan to put photographs along the school’s kindergarten wing, if necessary, they said.