Tribute to Veterans at Sayville Middle School
NOVEMBER 6, 2019
Among the approximately forty Veterans invited to the 2019 Sayville Middle School Annual Veterans Day luncheon reception, three—Mr. Donald Decker, Mr. Sal Nicosia and Mr. John Longo—were Veterans in their nineties having served in WWII.
Lunch was just the beginning of the special tribute for the Veterans in attendance. Once they had their picture taken at a restored Jeep parked in the Commons (donated for the occasion by Linda Davis), the Veterans were escorted to the main event in the filled-to-capacity auditorium of students and faculty. The Middle School Band played a military fanfare as the Veterans paraded into the auditorium where they were welcomed with a standing ovation lasting several minutes.
Opening the celebration, the students and staff honored the Veterans who were seated on stage with America the Beautiful, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Middle School chorus sang God Bless America.
A moving video tribute to the U.S. Military was followed by a few words from social studies teacher and veteran Major Mike Huggins. Selected poems Freedom isn't Free by Kelly Strong was read by Sofia Cangelosi, Thank a Vet by William Predeau was read by Gioia Racanelli, Because of the Brave by Ron Tranmer was read by Grace Garafola and Josiah George also read his winning essay.
All the Veterans were presented with lapel pins handmade by Valerie Lowe. This was followed by special presentation honoring W.W. II Veteran Petty Officer First Class E6 Navy Donald Decker, the grandfather of Middle School Assistant Principal Brian Decker. (Mr. Sal Nicosia and Mr. John Longo were specially honored last year.) After sharing his grandfather’s accomplishments (see insert), Mr. Decker presented him with an American Flag plaque (hand crafted by retired teacher Cheryl Callen-Adams) to commemorate his service.
The tribute continued with the Sayville Middle School community announcing that as a result of a fundraising activity, they had collected $500 to donate to two local veterans groups—Sayville VFW Post 433 and American Foreign Legion Post 651. In addition, guest dignitaries 7th District Assemblyman, Andrew R. Garbarino and 4th District, NY State Senator, Phil Boyle shared a few words thanking the Veterans for their heroism and service.
Principal Thomas Murray closed the ceremony with reminders why Veterans Day is important. This very special Middle School Ceremony demonstrated to the students that freedoms we all enjoy are hard won. Veterans Day is one way to acknowledge the service and sacrifice made by these brave men and women in the military who have shown tremendous moral courage to defend our country. To all our Veterans, thank you!
After the concluding video salute of Amazing Grace, some of the Veterans remained to visit the classrooms and speak in smaller groups about their military experiences.
Many thanks go to Lou Lowe, Matthew Biscari, Jeanine Vogel, and Tara Felice for organizing and hosting the program along with Cathy Ward, Trish Jones, and Mike Huggins. Special nod goes to Jim McLoughlin and Kathy Mellynchuk for preparing the video presentation and to Kathy Mellynchuk for designing the program.
To see MANY MORE photos, click on this link: 2019 Veterans Tribute Photo Album