A Special Veterans Day Ceremony “Worthy of Their Service” Held at Sayville Middle School
Coinciding with the one hundredth anniversary of Armistice Day, Sayville Middle School pulled out all the stops with a moving and poignant Veterans Day ceremony to show their appreciation for our local Veterans.
First there was a breakfast reception to which various veteran groups were invited, followed by a photo opportunity around an authentic W.W.II Jeep and motorcycle provided by Michael Cifelli. However, the main event, comprised of a slide show and awards ceremony, took place in the filled-to-capacity auditorium before the entire Sayville Middle School community.
Welcomed first by a musical fanfare of military themes, played by the Middle School Band, the Veterans paraded down an aisle flanked by musicians and into the auditorium where the official celebration began.
The Veterans were seated on stage during the ceremony that opened with The Pledge of Allegiance and God Bless America performed by the Middle School chorus. There was a stirring video tribute to the U.S. Military, an explanation about the significance of the poppy flower and a short history about the differences between Armistice Day and Veterans Day by social studies teacher- veteran Major Mike Huggins, and poems read by students Nick Watson (The Call to Duty by Kelly Roper); Emily Helbock (When You See a Soldier by Courtney Lane) and Bobby Zane (Tell Their Story by Callie Croft). The presentation of lapel pins to all the veterans on the stage was followed by special tributes honoring three W.W. II Veterans: Salvatore Nicosia and John Longo, and one awarded posthumously to Barney Loughlin, whose Sayville roots were deep and enduring. Nicosia and Longo were each given an American Flag plaque commemorating their service as were Barney Loughlin’s daughters Trish Loughlin, MaryEllen Loughlin, and Beth Loughlin.
The Sayville Middle School community also fundraised for the two local veterans groups: The Sayville American Legion and The Veterans of Foreign Wars and checks of $300 each were given to representatives Steve Antonacci and Joan Furey, respectively.
After the concluding video salute of Amazing Grace, the ceremony ended, but not the lessons of sacrifice and service. Many of the Veterans remained to visit the classrooms and speak on a more personal level about their military experiences to these smaller groups.
“A few years ago,” Social Studies teacher Louis Lowe explained, “we held our first Veterans Day Celebration. Many of us felt that although the gesture was good, the presentation did not rise to the level that it should have. A few of us went to Principal Murray and told him that if we were going to continue this event, we needed to make more of a commitment and do a much better job and Mr. Murray agreed. We feel that the past two years’ events were worthy of the guests we were honoring.”
Indeed, this very special celebration left an impression with many of the students who demonstrated respect and inquisitiveness throughout the entire Veterans Day program.
Many thanks go to those who coordinated the event, including Lou Lowe, Matthew Biscari, Jeanine Vogel, Tara Felice, Cathy Ward, Trish Jones, Mike Huggins, along with Jim McLoughlin and Kathy Mellynchuk who prepared the video slide-show presentation. The gifts (flag pins, flag plaques), presented to our guests were handmade by retired teacher Cheryl Callen-Adams and the W.W.II Jeep and Motorcycle were courtesy of Michael Cifelli .
However, very special thanks go to all our veterans—expressly those in attendance at the Middle School Ceremony—who have shown tremendous moral courage to defend our country. It is due to their ultimate service and dedication that our children continue to have the freedoms of religion, of speech…the right to a fair trial, the right to vote…. the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thank you!