DENVILLE, NJ -- The fourth and fifth grade students at Lakeview Elementary in Denville Township came together to celebrate and honor their district’s military servicemen on Nov 6 during their 26th annual Veterans' Day celebration.
All students assembled in the gymnasium, where more than 100 local war veterans of all military branches gathered to hear the youngsters sing and watch them present military flags.
“I think it’s important that we keep doing this,” said music teacher Daniel Komorowski, of Jefferson, who spearheads the Veterans Day event.
“It’s the one time of the year that we do a selfless act for people who have sacrificed so much for us. I tell the kids, 'They are not here to see us. We are here to thank them.'”
Lakeview students gave their earnest effort to make this celebration worthy for the Denville veterans.
“The veterans are important people, and it’s really nice that we can assemble this for them,” said Tessa Simone, a 10-year-old fifth grader whose grandfather Jim was a marine during the Vietnam War.
Simone’s classmate, 10-year-old fifth grader Isabela Pimenta, felt the same way.
“I feel very grateful to do this,” said Pimenta, whose own great-grandfather served in the army during World War II.
“If the veterans didn’t fight, we wouldn’t be doing these things back home.”
During the ceremony, all fourth and fifth graders sang various patriotic songs, from “My Country, 'Tis of Thee” to “God Bless the U.S.A.,” and of course, the National Anthem. Furthermore, the kids sang the anthems of each service branch: army, navy, marine corps, air force, and coast guard. And as each song was sung, and each flag made its way to the main stage, veterans of each specific branch took turns standing up in full uniform.
“This is quite an honor,” said Jerry Napolitano, senior vice-commander of Denville VFW Post 2519.
“The Lakeview students put a lot of work in this for us. We very much appreciate it!”
During the ceremony, some fourth and fifth students even gave presentations, talking about the origins of Veterans Day, the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance, the design of the American flag, the meaning of patriotism, and quotes from past presidents. Some students even spoke about what it means to be an American and how proud they were to recognize their local heroes.
“I’m honored to do this for the veterans,” said 10-year-old fifth grader Chris Boyle, whose grandfather served in the army during the Vietnam War.
“It’s an opportunity to learn and respect what they’ve done.”
Eleven-year-old fifth grader Patrick Andersen, whose cub scout troop 33 helped carry the color guard flags to the main stage, couldn’t agree more.
“This kind of event gives the fourth and fifth graders a chance to see what the veterans did and give back to them,” said Andersen, whose own dad Michael is a navy veteran.
After the morning ceremony, the veterans were invited to the cafeteria where members of the Lakeview PTA served lunch. Afterward, veterans visited classrooms to discuss their experiences in the military and what they do as veterans.
“This is by far the best event I’ve been to in support of our veterans,” said Denville Councilman Brian Bergen, who is also the commander of the VFW Post 2519 and recently won his bid for the New Jersey Assembly.
“We look forward to this celebration at Lakeview every year. You can’t come to this as a veteran and not get emotional. And these students are fantastic in their presentations.”
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