Veterans Honored at Washingtonville Schools
By Eugenia Moskowitz
Little Britain Elementary School honored veterans and their families at its annual Veterans Day Breakfast on Nov. 9 which included the White Table for the men and women who served or still serve in America’s Armed Forces. Because Little Britain has so many active military families, the school also holds an annual Military Appreciation Breakfast, which takes place in May.
Little Britain’s second graders led guests in the Pledge of Allegiance in sign language, after which Principal Sagrario Rudecindo-O’Neill said, “Thank you all so much for being here, and thank you for your service on behalf of Little Britain Elementary School. You can ask my husband I’m a pain in the neck, however I am able to express myself the way I want because of you. It is because I live in a country such as ours that I am able to worship the God I choose, have freedom of speech protected by our constitution, read what I want, live where I want, and receive an education I rightly deserve, all without fear that I may disappear in the middle of the night. I stand here as a woman of color in front of a multi-cultural community, in unity, because of your sacrifice, and I thank you.”
Then the 4th and 5th Grade Chorus sang, after which Rudecindo-O’Neill said the event was a project of the whole school: teachers, staff, PTO, and especially the children who created the centerpieces, set up the breakfast, and welcomed the veterans to the table. Guests also enjoyed a slideshow of themselves with family members.
Later that day, Taft Elementary School student council members, Principal Barbara Quinn, teachers, staff, and PTA welcomed over 230 veterans and active service members and their families to the school’s annual Veterans Day Luncheon. Students welcomed their guests, helped serve lunch and refreshments, and placed handmade thank-you cards on the tables.
After the luncheon, the entire student body filled the cafeteria for a special Wizard Assembly whose theme was Freedom. After student council members read speeches and poems from the stage to the audience of around 800 people and all grades K-5 sang “Land of the Free” led by music teacher Paul Davis, Principal Barbara Quinn said, “Freedom is possible because of the sacrifices of these men and women. The right to choose your friends, your school, where you live, and what you want to be when you grow up, you have these choices of self-determination because of the veterans and active service members here today. And we can’t ever take these freedoms for granted.”
One father, moved to speak, stood up and said, “When I ask myself was it worth it? The places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen? All these kids here today–” He swept his hand over the audience and, voice hitching, said, “Yeah…it’s worth it.”
World War II combat veteran John Hastings, who just celebrated his 95th birthday, attended the luncheon with one of his daughters. Photos of Hastings and William Denette, who also fought in WWII, were included in the slide show of veterans and their families.
CAPTION: The Taft Elementary School’s Veterans Day Luncheon was followed by a wizard assembly for the entire student body, staff, administration, and over 100 veterans, whose theme was Freedom. (Photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)