SOUTH CHINA — An assembly at Erskine Academy honoring veterans on Tuesday hit close to home as about 200 people heard the story of 2002 school graduate Tom Dostie.

Col. Dwaine Drummond, of the Maine Army National Guard, delivered the keynote address, recalling that Dostie was among those killed in December 2004 when a bomb exploded inside a base dining facility in Iraq. Drummond, of South China and a graduate of Gardiner High School, said he had decided to do laundry that day instead of going to the dining hall, noting that he too could have been among the casualties.

Michael McQuarrie, headmaster at Erskine Academy, said he and others who attended the 50-minute assembly — veterans, students, families — were appreciative and touched. The assembly, organized by the school’s wellness committee with the Maine National Guard, came three days before the observance of Veterans Day in the U.S.

For his part, McQuarrie spoke at the assembly about how students were born after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, meaning they’ve have known no other time except “for a time of conflict.”

“I tried to impress on kids that we can be lulled into a sense of security because we’re so well protected by the veterans,” McQuarrie said after Tuesday’s assembly. “We made a pledge when we become alumni of the school, and I asked them to take a pledge to do all they can to advocate for responsible action caring for veterans and their families.”

Also at the assembly, the Maine National Guard’s honor guard posted and retired the colors during a flag ceremony, Erskine’s chorus performed the national anthem, and veterans in the audience stood to represent their branches of service while those individual branches’ anthems were played.