PARAMUS, N.J. — More than 20 veterans residing at Brightview Senior Living received special treatment on Veterans Day from students at Memorial Elementary School. The youngsters, who were in attendance with their educators and Mayor Richard LaBarbiera, took turns reciting a poem and sang a slew of patriotic songs to the veterans and other amused residents from a flute-infused National Anthem to “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” 

“On behalf of Paramus, I want to thank you from the bottom of our heart for all that you’ve done for this great country,” said LaBarbiera. “We’re the land of the free because we’re the home of the brave. And the brave is each and every one of you who have ever worn that uniform. We are forever indebted to you.”

The mayor told the veterans and facility residents this afternoon about the service that was held at Memorial School earlier that day, during which students were invited to shake the veterans’ hands, one of whom had reportedly shaken hands with a Civil War veteran when he was their age. 

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“We had a veteran today who shook the hand of a veteran who fought in the Civil War,” said LaBarbiera to the stunned audience. “And he in turn shook the hands of these kids. That’s over 160 years. That’s pretty impressive. We don’t know what their [the students’] future brings and who they’ll be shaking hands with.” 

After the children serenaded the veterans, LaBarbiera distributed certificates of appreciation to the 24 veterans who were in attendance for their “distinguished, exceptional and meritorious service,” and to the spouses of deceased veterans who accepted them on their behalf. The certificates were bundled with a miniature pin of an American flag and red, white and blue-colored thank-you notes depicting a heart-shaped American flag and drawings crafted by the students that read the following:  

Dear Veteran,

Thank you for your service. You protect our freedom and I appreciate that. You put your life at stake to protect us. You left your family to protect our country. Thank you.