Every year in May, the Upper School holds a special assembly to commemorate Memorial Day. This tradition dates back to St. Louis Country Day School and features remarks by an alum serving in the military as well as a reading of the names of alumni who have given their lives in service of our country.
Captain Ryan Harbison ’03, United States Marine Corps, shared his reflections on Memorial Day with students, faculty and alumni guests on May 23. “It is critical that we understand that Memorial Day is all about honoring those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this nation,” he said. He went on to share the history of the Memorial Day holiday and its evolution from a day to commemorate those lost in the Civil War to a day that honors all Americans who have given their lives in any armed conflict.
Captain Harbison associates two words with Memorial Day – sacrifice and integrity, stating, “indeed, there really is no greater sacrifice than giving up one’s life for others, for a country or for an ideal.” To reflect upon the concept of integrity, he spoke about training he received on how to evade capture and then survive captivity if necessary, learning about the experiences of several POWs. “As Marines, we were taught that integrity is doing the right thing, for the right reasons, when nobody is looking,” he shared.
In conclusion, he stated, “As we reflect on the enormous sacrifice these scores of men and women have made for us, as we consider the depth of their integrity and their unwavering devotion to the human right to liberty, both here and on foreign shores, let us remember the price of freedom we enjoy.”
Following Captain Harbison’s remarks, Upper School Student Council Co-Chairs Hope Keeley ’17 and Andrew Krause ’17 read the names of alumni who have given their lives in service to their country. After a moment of silence, and a performance of “Taps,” Upper School choir members gave a beautiful performance of “America, the Beautiful.”
Captain Harbison graduated from Colgate University and completed Officers Candidate School in Quantico, VA. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marines Corps on an Aviation Contract. After flight training, he was assigned to pilot the CH-53E Super Stallion, aka “Big Iron.” His squadron deployed twice, to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, and to Okinawa, Japan, in support of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. He is currently stationed in Pensacola, FL, teaching the helicopter advanced phase of flight school for Navy and Marine pilots.
He is married to his MICDS classmate, Lauren Sedgwick Harbison ’03, and they are the parents of a nine-month-old son, Connor.