Venerating a Sayville Hometown World War II Veteran
At a very special Veteran’s Day celebration, held at Sayville Middle School, the entire student body assembled to remember all veterans who have served our country. The focus of this year’s ceremony, however, was not only to honor those in attendance from the local Sayville community, including members of the local VFWs, but to recognize one veteran in particular—Corporal Dennis O’Doherty—who served in World War II.
“On this day, we take a moment to reflect and thank those who have served our country,” Principal Thomas Murray reminded all present during his opening address. “These men and women on stage have served and continue to serve our country well. They have left their families at a moment’s notice to defend our country. They have and continue to put themselves in harm’s way so that we can live in a free society. For those of you who are serving today and those of you who have served in the past, we honor you today and every day.”
Mr. Murray’s moving words were only the beginning of the wonderful tribute. This celebration of heroism and duty continued with the recitation of a poem written especially for the Veterans by eighth-grader Yirdaw Rivera. After, Middle School Social Studies teacher, Michael Huggins, who is a Major in the New York Air National Guards, introduced the other veterans in attendance calling up each by name to be recognized by the Middle School students and staff.
During a special part of the ceremony, the focus was on one particular guest—Dennis O’Doherty—a member of the “forever-shrinking group of World War II Veterans” who has been a lifetime Sayville resident. Middle School Social Studies teacher Mr. Louis Lowe invited two eighth grade students—grandson Dan O’Doherty and great, great nephew Mack Murtha of the honored guest—to join him at the podium as he gave a brief history lesson. Given that the Second World War began seventy-eight years ago, “this simple mathematical reality,” Mr. Lowe remarked, “makes increasingly difficult to be in the company of someone who has served in this war. Today we have that honor.” After recounting Corporal Dennis O’Doherty life and career, Mr. Lowe enlisted the assistance of these two students to present a special plaque to honor the ninety-three-year-old World War II Veteran.
In addition, special proclamations prepared by New York State Senator Phil Boyle and New York State Senator Tom Croci (who also, as Senator Boyle graciously pointed out, has served as a Commander in the United States Navy) were presented to corporal O’Doherty by each of the dignitaries.
The Veterans Day assembly ended with final words of thanks and gratitude, along with two inspiring videos showcasing scenes from World War II and other U.S. conflicts, set to the music of You Raise Me Up by with Josh Grobban and God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood.