NUTLEY, NJ - Guests walked briskly through the front entrance of the Nutley High School Wednesday evening,  filled with curiosity and anticipation for the Veterans Day Patriotic Program that was being held in its auditorium. The Patriot Club, a fairly organization formed by Coach J.D. Vick to promote American pride, was honoring this our Nutley Veterans.

Guests were quickly introduced to the President of the Patriots Club, Michael Hogan, a senior at Nutley High School. He was neatly dressed in a blue sport coat, white shirt and red tie, capped off with an American flag pin proudly displayed on his left chest. Within a few minutes of our interview, I knew this was an impressive young man who was going to achieve great things in his lifetime. He enlightened TAPinto Nutley on what his club stood for. “Our primary goal is to promote patriotism and to support our local Veterans. We need to show that patriotism still exists today, regardless of what you may see on television. We are in our fifth year as an organization, have approximately forty members, and meet once a week before school starts on Friday. We owe all of this to the hard work of Coach Vick, who has not only started the program, but is very involved in our community as well.”

As the Jazz band drew to a close, Hogan took to the stage and stood behind the podium, welcoming the large crowd of Veterans and family members that had gathered this cold crisp evening. George Washington’s prayer was spoken, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Then the Nutley High School Choir sang the Star Spangled Banner. As if Angels from above sang down from the Heavens, they were nothing short of perfect, unadulterated perfection.

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Commissioner Steve Rogers, a Veteran himself, gave a speech filled with pride and the thankfulness that he felt towards our community and our Veterans. He touched upon how the future is held in the tiny hands of the children, and to instill pride in a young age, can only be rewarding in the years to come for us as a nation.

Video of our military in action and our flag, waving confidently, appeared  on screen as Armed Forces melodys played as the backdrop to a room filled with the best of what this country has to offer; Veterans from a variety of wars. There were Veterans from World War II as well as men serving at the present time. Some were in military dress, some wore civilian clothing, most wore hats, proudly, of the war or branch or ship that they were a part of as they served this great nation.

The Veterans enjoyed the Yantacaw First Grade class of beautiful children singing 'Grand Ole Flag' out of key, it was the recognition of Veterans that was the highlight of the evening. Each Veteran was asked to stand when his name was called out. A member of the Patriots club and a small child would then walk over to that Veteran and present him with a certificate of appreciation, and a crayon colored picture as a thank you for their service. The children often looked puzzled, sometimes lingering in the aisle after shaking the Veterans hand. This of course drew chuckles from the audience to see a four year old looking up into the eyes of a ninety four year old. When this part of the program finished, the somber aspect of honoring our fallen with 'Taps' on trumpet, played eloquently by Mr. McPartland, left a melancholy feeling heavy in the air.

Upon the conclusion of the program, a pasta dinner was held at the Knights of Columbus for all Veterans and their families. This was presented by the Nutley Family Service Bureau with the guidance of Eileen Painter. There was a live band, food, laughter, and most of all, a sentiment of community. aAinter’s favorite response when she is complimented for all her hard work on a project is that it is not one person that should take credit, it actually takes a village.

Wednesday night the village of Nutley embraced the dignity and integrity of the men and women who swear an oath to protect this nation. While Americans such as Michael Hogan, J.D. Vick, and our Veterans reside in this ever so sinister world, having people like that exist, ensures there will always be a light brought forth into the darkness of the world.