Story by Lon Tytell
A very thoughtful and well organized Warwick Valley Middle School (WVMS) Valentines for Vets Program was held on Wed., Feb. 8. Faculty, staff and students welcomed veterans and their spouses from Warwick and the surrounding area. Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton and Warwick Village Mayor Michael Newhard also attended. The veterans were welcomed by WVMS Principal Lisamarie Spindler and music performed by members of the seventh grade orchestra under the direction of Christy Brown.
The program commenced with an instrumental rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” and songs representing the different branches of the Armed Forces performed by teachers, Ryan Muehlbauer, Paul Myruski, Peter Van De Water and student, Timothy Leonard.
Social Studies Teacher Joan Rueckert spoke about the importance of the Honor Flight Program and invited any of the veterans present to sign up for the opportunity to visit the monuments honoring each of the branches of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C.
The breakfast was prepared and served by Home and Careers students of Corrine Lane and Linda Motyka. During the meal, music was performed by the Wire Choir Orchestra under the direction of E’lissa Maynard, who shared renditions of patriotic, pop, rock, and Broadway tunes. Members of the Guitar Club also provided entertaining vocals.
Student representatives from each grade level served as hosts/hostesses, spending time with each veteran and handing out valentines, brownies and lollipops. The program ended with the raffling off of a crocheted blanket by Instructional Aide, Alanna Curran, who created it in memory of her husband, Jimmy, who was a U.S. Navy Seabee; a blanket created by Human Resource employee, Denise Dickten; and pillow cases made by Home and Careers students.
Comments from Veterans
Veteran Stan Martin commented, “This was a touching tribute to those of us who were honored to serve in the military. Sharing a patriotic morning with our youth is an enjoyable event for students, teachers and all of us veterans.”
Veteran Fred Houston offered these words, “This is a wonderful tribute to all of us veterans. The students and teachers did a great job. However, my heart is a little sad because I can’t forget my buddies who are no longer alive to enjoy this beautiful tribute to all of us veterans.”
Veteran Tom Brennan commented, “I’m so touched by the outstanding, wonderful support expressed here in the Middle School. The kids were great and so were the food and the music. The music! It was perfect; a beautiful morning together. We say thank you so much!”
Reflections by Students
Erin Smith shared these thoughts, “Valentine’s Day is a great day to remember all you have loved and different people to thank. Some people you should definitely thank are the veterans that save and defend America. There are not enough words, not any hug strong enough, not any smile wide enough, to express our gratitude for the veterans. You would travel near and far just to defend your country and that is a huge sacrifice. We all appreciate you so much and we can’t say it enough. Once a soldier, always a soldier. Thank you again veterans.”
Olivia Fauchere said, “The veterans not only helped us by being in war, they also helped each other by becoming brothers in combat regardless of race. They helped each other by sticking together through aerial raids, skirmishes of hand to hand combat and bad weather, like snowstorms and rainstorms. They all shared one common goal. They loved the United States of America and were willing to die to protect our way of life. The veterans are brave because they went out to fight, away from the ones they loved, their families, and away from their homes.’”
From a very personal viewpoint, Olivia Holland said, “It is with great pride that I speak here today. I am the great–granddaughter of three World War II veterans. Like them, you are all heroes to me and to all of us. When I think of all the sacrifices you made, like not seeing your families and missing birthdays and holidays, I appreciate you even more. All of you are so brave and courageous. You know the true meaning of being an American and how lucky we are to have our Democracy. You symbolize honor and dignity. Thank you for your service and for protecting our rights and freedom. Have a great Valentine’s Day from your Middle School family.”
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