Celebrating Veterans

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In honor of Veterans Day, schools throughout the Rocky Point School District took time to celebrate and recognize local servicemen and women this November for their bravery and service to the country.

Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School second-grade students gathered in the school’s gymnasium to host a special Veterans Day celebration for the special veterans in the students’ lives. After the nations’ colors were presented by a member of the Rocky Point VFW Post 6249, the veterans in attendance were individually introduced and presented with a paper medal of honor. Additionally, students learned about the evolution of the trumpet and the part the bugle plays in the military from a member of Post 6249. 

Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School and Rocky Point High School also each hosted moving Veterans Day assembly programs. At JAE, members of the fifth-grade select chorus High Notes sang several patriotic songs, and student representatives read original essays and presented the attendees with tokens of their appreciation.  

At Rocky Point High School, the assembly featured four servicemen and a presentation of the colors by Post 6249. Richard Kitson, president of the Suffolk County Chapter of Vietnam Veterans, spoke about his service as a mortarman within the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and his instrumental efforts to build the Vietnam War Memorial on Bald Hill. 

Dr. Frank Lunati was a young doctor when he was drafted into the Army because of its need for medical staff at the beginning of the Vietnam War. He spoke about his service during the 1965 Battle of la Drang, depicted in the Mel Gibson film “We Were Soldiers,” as well as Lunati’s book “Time Never Heals.” 

John Fernandez is a 1996 graduate of Rocky Point High School, the West Point Prep School, and was a member of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He spoke about his service as a captain of the Army Black Knights football team of West Point and how he was wounded in Iraq. This led to Fernandez’s prominent work with the Wounded Warriors, in particular his advocacy for the needs of all service members who have been hurt since 9/11. Additionally, John, whose name is displayed on the road that is next to VFW Post 6249, presented his combat patch to the high school, which will be hung in the window cases next to his picture and story.

Gabriel “Buddy” Gengler, a graduate of Shoreham-Wading River who also attended and became an officer at West Point, spoke about his service, how poor the civilians were overseas and his support of Wounded Warriors and all of our nation’s veterans. Lastly, Tommy Sullivan, a treasure of the school’s annual ceremony who has played in the West Point Army Band and for Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge, performed several beautiful songs.